When the Mayor and the Editor are Feuding

15 06 2009

Only in a small town like Gallup does this happen.

Joe, the editor and publisher of one of the two newspapers here in town, has an ongoing feud with Harry, the mayor. It was recently exascerbated when Joe ran a poll in his paper alleging that nearly 60% of people in town are dissatisfied with the mayor’s job performance.

So when Joe showed up at a recent City Council meeting to make a complaint, he got a little more than he bargained for.

First, some quick background. The other newspaper here in town publishes a list of people who haven’t paid their utility bills. This is hilarious to me; I guess it’s supposed to shame people into paying up since their nosy neighbors will know if they haven’t paid their bills. I can’t imagine a real newspaper in a large town doing something so unbelievably tacky, but out here it just doesn’t seem all that unusual.

So Joe, the publisher of the other newspaper, went to the City Council with a complaint about the Skate Park. His argument was that the park is falling into disrepair and that the city should really assume some responsibility to fix it.

Harry, the mayor, who undoubtedly still has that poll (the scientific validity of which is questionable) in the back of his mind, hopped up and said, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Well, Joe, I noticed in the paper the other day that you’re on the list of people who haven’t paid their utility bills, so maybe if you were responsible enough to pay your bills, the city would have enough money to fix up the Skate Park.”


For an extra level of tact and class, I read this story in the other newspaper, which I’m sure was all too excited to have some dirt to report about their competitor. I’m relaying it here primarily because it’s such a classic example of the way that the bigwigs in this town seem to get along with each other.

It makes me glad I just run a little coffee shop.


Getting Back at the Man

9 06 2009

So many funny and eventful things have happened that I haven’t blogged about. I know better than to make more promises about blog frequency, so instead I’m just writing one blog post with no promises attached. Here you go. Enjoy.

I had waited almost 15 minutes in an extremely long line at Albertson’s grocery store. A cashier came along and opened the lane right next to me, offering to help the next person in line.

When this happens, common courtesy dictates that if you hop in the new line, you stay in the same order in which you already were in the other lane. If you’re at the back of the line, it’s impolite to rush to be the first in the new line, cutting ahead of people who have been waiting longer than you have.

And that’s exactly what happened. I was the “next person in line” that the new cashier offered to help, but as I started moving toward her lane, a man from the back of the line literally pushed his way past me and plopped his groceries on the counter. It was so ridiculous that, unbelievable though it may sound, I was temporarily at a loss for words.

I found my tongue quickly enough, and my voice came out louder than I intended. I try to be gracious, but I also live in the real world, and in the real world I have a particularly low tolerance for rudeness. I can deal with ignorance, stupidity, or cluelessness all day long. But if you’re intentionally rude to me or someone else, you had better believe I will call you out on the carpet.

“Don’t you think you should let people who were here before you go first, buddy?” I said to the entire store.

It is at this point in the story that I must point out that this man was Navajo. I try not to make a big issue out of race, but his response to me can only make correct sense in that context. And what he said totally floored me.

He turned to me and declared to everyone within earshot, “My people don’t answer to you anymore.”

This time I didn’t find my tongue again. I pride myself on having a comeback for just about everything (in elementary school, I was the younger, picked-on kid which resulted in a sharp wit by the time I reached adulthood — a worthwhile tradeoff, I’ve decided) but I had nothing to say back to He Who Cuts In Line. There is nothing in my deck of responses that tops the Persecuted Indian trump card.

All I could do was laugh. And I wasn’t even laughing at him, I was laughing at the fact that I got beat by an Indian in a verbal conflict and I knew it.

What’s funny is that, with his response, the wave of irritation that had flared up so quickly inside of me dissipated just as fast. I have come to realize that I will let people get away with a lot of crap if they can make me laugh, and I mean really laugh, not a polite, “that-wasn’t-funny-but-I-don’t-want-to-hurt-your-feelings” laugh.

He Who Cuts In Line cracked me up with his audacious response, which in all fairness, I should point out is so horribly nontypical of my overall experience with Native Americans. Most are very polite, well-mannered people. But for this nontypical guy, I stepped aside and waited my turn to check out.

If getting to cut in line at the grocery store makes him feel like he’s able to get back at the man a little bit, more power to him. It’s a hell of a one-liner, you have to admit.

I wonder how many people he’s used it on.

Wind, Sand and Burgers

28 02 2009

Apparently windy season has arrived here. It gusts all the time. This is good in its own way because it dries out the mud as the last of the snow continues to melt (and I sincerely hope we’re past the big snowstorms). But the wind here really blows.

It’s funny, it seems that there is at least one thing for each season that makes it not-quite-enjoyable to be outside here. If it’s spring, it would be gorgeous out, except that it’s raining, so you’ll get soaked and muddy. If it’s summer, it would be gorgeous out, except there are so many buffalo gnats you’ll get eaten alive. If it’s autumn, there are still buffalo gnats and now it’s also raining again. If it’s winter, you’re getting snowed on and you’re freezing. And for that magical couple of weeks in February and March when the snow seems to have stopped, it’s not raining yet, and the buffalo gnats are not yet in proliferation — the wind is blowing incessantly.

We have, for the most part, made quite an effort to enjoy the outdoors here in spite of the minor inconveniences that each season brings. It really is beautiful here — albeit, always with an “except for.” I’m looking forward to the temperature going up a bit so we can go exploring again in Cibola National Forest, which is literally right next door. And even though the rain does cause some inconveniences, it really is quite a thrill when it rains here.

This past Thursday, we went with Gabe and Beka Anast’s family to Red Rock State Park (just barely outside of town) where there is a large sand dune. The wind died down enough for us to enjoy ourselves for about an hour. I climbed all the way to the top, which was no small feat as it’s a very tall and extremely steep incline with no solid foothold. You stop climbing, you start sliding down, so you have to stay in constant climbing motion, kind of like a stair-climbing exercise machine. The kids managed this much easier, but then again, they don’t weigh 190 pounds. We got a little sandblasted on the way back out, but it’s definitely a place we’ll go back to visit again soon, perhaps when the wind has lessened.

Any physical exercise from which I might have benefitted at the sand dune was promptly cancelled out afterward. Gabe, Beka, Liesl and I then took the kids (that’s nine children between our two families) to Blake’s Lotaburger, a diner chain that’s fairly prolific across New Mexico. Their food is delicious. Think “burger-the-way-burger-should-taste.” Not quite as good as, say, In-N-Out, but reasonably close to it, and a major step up from the usual fast food joints. For a Colorado comparison, I would put Blake’s in the same category as maybe a Griff’s, or Jim’s Burger Haven. Anyway, my Lotaburger with Cheese and Bacon would probably take more than a trek up the dune to work off. But hey, it’s become quite rare for us to eat food like that these days. We had a great time.

So there’s our week. Wind, sand and burgers. I think that just about sums it up.

Two Discoveries

19 02 2009

I made two incredible discoveries this week, both of which involve the grocery store Safeway.

The first discovery was that there is, in fact, a place to get sushi in Gallup. This is a huge deal. Up to this point, I have been thinking the absence of sushi is one of the reasons I could never stay in Gallup forever. This week, I found it at Safeway. Now, do keep in mind that grocery store sushi is kind of like the equivalent of getting a steak at the Golden Corral versus a steak at a real steakhouse. But the point is that when you’ve lived for nine months in a town completely devoid of one of your favorite foods, even a cheap imitation is extremely exciting. The grocery store sushi is strictly limited to California Rolls, which contain no raw fish but rather fully-cooked imitation crab, so there’s not really a freshness issue. But just having access to the magical combination of seafood, sushi rice and seaweed is beyond exciting to me.

The second discovery came on the same trip to Safeway. They’re in the middle of remodeling the store. They had cleared out a large space along the front wall of the store. I assumed they were putting in a supermarket branch for a bank, but it’s so much better than that. This week, they put up the sign, and immediately I could taste the Caramel Frappuccinos and Toffee Nut Lattes.

That’s right, folks. On March 23, 2009, inside the Safeway on Highway 602, Gallup will celebrate the opening of its very first… Starbucks.


11 02 2009

Today we went out to lunch to celebrate Granny’s birthday. Also joining was the always-enjoyable Anast family, and I sat at the end of the table with Joe (age 7) and Rysha (age 5). Those two kids make for rather entertaining lunch conversation.

One part of our discussion was so funny I told Joe I was going to blog about it later. Somehow, he got on the topic of whether it’s easier to breathe through your nose, your mouth, or a combination of the two. Here’s a quick snippet of that dialogue.

Joe: One time, I breathed only through my nose for, like, three hours.

Me: Really?

Joe: Yeah. It was awful!

Worst Toy Ever

7 02 2009

Aidan brought home the worst toy ever.

We splurged and went to McDonald’s last weekend. While playing at the indoor Playland, some little boy gave Aidan a toy and told to keep it. It’s a little cell phone with stickers for Spider-Man 3. If I had heard the noises this phone made before the other little boy had left, I would have made Aidan give it back.

It’s possibly the most obnoxious thing I have ever heard in my life. Actually, it’s not so bad at first. It rings, then a female voice says something I can’t understand. Then it rings again and a dog barks. And then… oh, man oh man, and then! It plays a song, and this particular sounds like a Japanese anime video cassette being eaten by the VCR. I have no idea for the life of me what these noises have to do with Spider-Man 3 (after the first two movies, I lost interest) but that song is the most annoying little earworm I’ve ever had the misfortune of overhearing.

I decided that simply describing it wasn’t going to do this toy adequate justice. I have included, for your viewing enjoyment, a 30-second video clip I took this morning so I could share the magic of this toy with you. There’s nothing wrong with the audio, either. the toy really sounds like this.

Hope you enjoy.

Jillian Abigail Sanchez

6 12 2008

By now, I think I’ve emailed most everyone who comments regularly on my blog or who I know in real life, but in case I’ve somehow missed you, here is some exciting news:

Our fourth child and third daughter, Jillian Abigail Sanchez, was born on Monday, December 1, 2008.

For more of the details, the birthing story and a photo by yours truly, please visit my wonderful wife’s blog entry:


Many, many thanks to all of you who have written with hearty congratulations. We are thrilled by this new addition to our ever-growing family!