Tag Archives: New Mexico

More…Ramblings From The Land Of Enchantment.

The “Romero Fire” as seen east of where I live.

Seems like it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on “What the Fluffy.”  In itself, what the fluffy is up with that?  Well, it’s called a jay oh bee, and it’s cutting into things I like to do, like write this blog.  I’ve been taking advantage of working overtime to make a few extra bucks – and I’m not joking, it’s only a few extra bucks – but it kept the DirecTV from being cut off last Saturday.  Well, it didn’t really prevent it from being cut off, but we did get it back on within a few minutes after parting with every cent we had left in the checking account.  So much for extra bucks.  Gotta have your 250 channels of nothing at all to watch.  Who needs food?

I’m going to give you my “State of the State” address in just a few words.  The whole state is on fire, it’s hot and windy, and we’re in a severe drought.  In fact, I forgot how windy it gets here, which is odd because I HATE wind.  I always say I’m going to find the one place in the whole of the United States where the wind doesn’t blow and I’m going to move there, only I’m not ever moving again.  It’s so windy here – how windy is it? – they have a wind forecast every day on the news.  They give a “Wind Forecast” for four periods of the day.  Seems pointless, since it’s windy in the morning, windy in the afternoon, windy in the evening and windy at night.  They tell you how windy it’s going to be though, so I guess that helps.  You’ll know whether the fence is going to blow over, or just lean a little more than usual.

Here are some of the fires burning currently in New Mexico: “The Whitewater Baldy-Complex Fire,” the largest fire in the state’s history, burning 296,726 acres, which is 464 square miles (It became a “complex” when the two fires joined together.), “The Little Bear Fire,”approximately 42,995 acres, “The Blanco Fire,” “The Turley Fire,” and yesterday afternoon, a few miles from my house, the “Romero Fire” which is burning in the Rio Grande Bosque.

What the hell is a bosque, right?  Well, let’s get scientific.  We’ll go straight to Wikipedia, because everything on Wikipedia is gospel: “Bosque is the name for areas of gallery forest found along the riparian flood plains of stream and river banks in the southwestern United States.  It derives its name from the Spanish word for woodlands.”   Sounds right.  We generally call it a river bank, but in the Land of Enchantment, about the only place you’ll find “woodlands” is on both sides of a “river” bank.  I put “bunny ears” around the word river, because you can jump most of the rivers around here, or, at least, wade across them without rolling your pant legs much past your knees.  The bosque burns like a torch, and the wind, well, the wind just makes it worse.  What makes the fire really difficult to fight is that it jumps from tree-top to tree-top and the firefighters can’t stop the flames spreading from the ground.  They’re saying that fire is now 80% contained.

What exactly does that mean?  You’d think, logically, that it means that only 20% of the fire is still burning, but that’s not right.  What they mean when they say a fire is “contained” is that they have a line around a percentage of the fire that they don’t expect it will jump.  Unless, of course, conditions change, like heat, and wind, and bad luck.  Lightning caused the largest fire in New Mexico history.  They have it 60% contained.  When a fire is 100% contained it’s still burning all the available fuel, just not expected to get any bigger.

Then you have the serious problem of erosion if, and that’s a big “if” it seems, the monsoon season ever materializes.  The monsoon season is now, and we haven’t had a drop of rain, or any rain forecasted in the week to come.  When it rains here during the monsoon season, it’s rather incredible.  The ground around here can’t absorb moisture worth a damn, even though it’s desperate for it, so all the water turns into torrential rivers called arroyos.  Arroyo is the Spanish word for stream.  Actually the arroyos are the dry ditches that the rain water will run into and form raging rivers that wash cars, people and land away in an instant.  Still, we need the rain.  Our average rainfall by this time of year is 2.1 inches.  We are at 1.87.  Seems ridiculous because I’ve seen twelve inches of rain running down the street when I tried to float my truck home one day in April.

Speaking of driving, I’ve decided, now that I’m commuting to work every day, that speed limits in The Land Of Enchantment are not even suggestions, they are challenges.  The goal of which is to see how fast over the posted speed limit you can go, without ramming into someone in front of you because you put on your blinker, which automatically gives you the right to change lanes in that direction – or the other- and the speeding car in the other lane won’t let you because it will slow them down.  This morning, I sped right along next to a Rio Rancho Police car that was accepting the same challenge, I guess.  They could easily make their quota for tickets on Paseo del Norte, loosely translated, the “ride north,” a six-lane roadway that connects Albuquerque with the “west side,” of which I am a resident, but I have yet to see a car pulled over for speeding on this ride east.  Yeah, that’s right, the road goes east- west and is called the north ride.  Okay, well, it is north of Albuquerque, so to speak.  There really is nowhere to pull a car over on this bridge road over the Rio Grande though.  The posted speed limit is 60, I drive 70 – because I have to -, and the cars fly by me like I’m parked.  I’m guessing that the Autobahn in Germany is very much like Paseo del Norte, although I’ve only heard about the Autobahn.  I’m sure, that if it’s like any freeway in the world, it doesn’t move any faster in rush-hour traffic than the non-posted standard of ten miles per hour.

Another thing I notice, is that a lot of cars in The Land Of Enchantment, more than any other state I’ve lived in, have a headlight out.  They also have cracked windshields, just like I do.  I wonder why that is?

Okay, I’ve exceeded my thousand words, so I’ll leave you with this question for my next story:  Does an aluminum baseball bat make a bell sound when it bounces off of someone’s head?



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MVD Express…An Efficacious Experience

“MVD Express.”  The name itself implies that the wait will be short and the experience efficacious.  It also costs $26.79 plus tax for the adventure.  They make that clear up front, in the form of posters, big screen TVs and the first thing out of the mouth of the agents.  I didn’t care.  I was on a mission to lie and deceive.  Well, that’s a bit strong.  If you read my blog post, “I’m Not Writing A Blog Today” you know where this is going.  If not, take a few minutes to catch up.

I walked into the local “MVD Express” office at approximately 9:54.  I was out by 10:15.  My wait to see an agent, 30 seconds.  Their slogan is “Get In, Get Done, Get Going.”  Gotta love it.  “MVD Express” is a private company contracted with the State of New Mexico to process MVD paperwork.  Why, I wonder, can’t the government agency operate as efficiently?  Same process, same business transaction, same document requirements.  One thing that isn’t the same is the attitude of the agents.  None of this negative, “wish I was anywhere else but here talking to you, because I know you don’t have the right documents.”  Nope, Amanda was friendly, helpful and worked with me to get the necessary documents to prove residency.  I brought seven of them for the required two, just in case.

After a paper jam in the printer, that required help from an assistant manager, she gave me back my proof of residency documents and we were off to take the photo.  “I’m taking the photo in one, two, three,” she said.  Then she turned the monitor over to me and asked me if it was okay.  I looked like a criminal being booked for lying and deceiving the MVD, but I said it looked fine.  Men don’t care how those pictures look.  If they look like us, we’re good.

Passing the eye test next took about 10 seconds.  I simply had to read the letters in the top line on both sides.  Without struggle, I read them off.  “Perfect,” she said and we headed back to the counter.

She highlighted several fields on the two forms and asked me to complete them.  Name, address, have a current license, and so forth.  Then came the questions.

Do you suffer from…and there it was ‘diabetes’ and fifteen other ailments that included addiction to drugs…and something about alcohol.  No need to read them, I checked NO.  And I checked no to that question about ever having your license suspended and that one about ever being convicted of DUI or a felony.  Okay, the suspension had to do with a ticket I didn’t pay in New Mexico, which I finally did pay because they wouldn’t give me a license in Arizona.  It was a parking ticket.  I was never convicted of DUI or DWI or whatever they call it, but I was arrested (More fodder for future stories.).  And I have never been arrested or convicted of a felony, yet.

Amanda typed some more into the computer, then handed me my temporary license explaining that I would receive the new one in the mail in about two weeks.  The total bill for an 8-year license?  $77.78!!  WTF!  I had a choice between a 4-year or an 8-year, and I figured I could avoid any immediate future hassle over this “Medical Report” by paying for the longer term.

So, as I suspected, the only verification they do of this medical condition BS is my word, which obviously, in this instance, was not good.  I can actually see how some of these medical conditions can be a problem; dizzy spells, convulsions, epileptic fits, etc. , when operating a motor vehicle, but they shouldn’t rely on someone’s word.  They need to require a medical report for EVERYONE, along with all the other documents they require to get a driver’s license.  If not, then I guess it’s not such a problem.  You have to get a doctor’s release to do a lot of things, why not driving?

If you’re interested in the studies that have been done on diabetic patients and driving, here is a very thorough article:  “Diabetes and Driving” by the American Diabetes Association, that you can read.  Some interesting things I didn’t know, but the bottom line appears to be that there isn’t any strong evidence that diabetic drivers are any worse than the general driving public.  Surprise.  I would be more worried about those impaired drivers that had a few drinks at the bar before heading home, or a hit of marijuana to level them out.  And just so you know, I’m not feeling guilty about not telling the truth this time.  Let them figure it out.  Which causes me to pause because I don’t have the permanent license yet.  I should be glad I don’t have that big of a readership, yet, on “WTF…What The Fluffy.

By the way, the only state that will revoke your license for getting into an accident if you are a diabetic, is California.  Another shock.


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Do You Want To Go To Hell, Boy? …Continued

“Nothin’,” I said.  “Were you going to leave without me?” I asked with a tinge of panic in my voice.

“Hell, I thought you were right behind me,” Murph said matter-of-factly.

I wondered what both of us would have done if the bus doors had slammed shut and I wasn’t out of the grasp of the holy roller still standing in the middle of the street preaching fire and brimstone to the oncoming cars.  He was still there.  I saw him clearly through the window as the bus pulled out.

It was now after one in the morning, and we rode the bus for about 15 minutes.  Murph got up after the bus stopped for the sixth or seventh time and said, “This is our stop, I think.”

When I excited the bus, the preacher from before was standing on the corner waiting for the light to change.  I know it was the same guy.  The one who grabbed me in the cross walk.  We had come several miles on the bus and he hadn’t gotten on the bus, so I was totally mystified how the tall, thin man in the black tail coat with the tattered bible had gotten there, at the same time as we did.

As soon as he saw me he started in again.  “Do you want to go to HELL, boy?  If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your savior, this minute, boy, you’re surely going to HELL.  As surely as I’m a standin’ here.”  He pounded his palm on the bible he was holding.

I was so shocked to see him there I had nothing.  “Sure, whatever.”  Murph grabbed my arm and we hurried across the street.  I never saw him again, but I still, to this day, wonder how he got there and why he was at that particular bus stop telling me I was going to go to hell.

We spent what was left of the night in a Holiday Inn within walking distance of the Trailways bus station.  After a shower and some breakfast, we headed off, refreshed, for the bus station, purchased two round trip tickets to Canyon.  The bus was already loading.

The bus, with final destination of Dallas/Fort Worth flashing on the sign over the windshield, was almost full.  There were no seats left together, so Murph jumped into an empty seat, and I grabbed the next one in the row.  The man I was sitting next to was dressed in a black suit, the coat over his lap, and the sleeves on his white shirt were rolled up.  The shirt was so wrinkled, either he had slept in it, or he didn’t own an iron.  He didn’t say anything when I sat down.  Just looked up and I kind of nodded.

As the bus rolled on down the highway, the man next to me finally said something.  “Where you headed?”

“Going to Canyon to check out the university,” I replied. 

“You a student?” he asked. 

“No,” I thought, “I’m just going to the university for something to do over Spring Break (which was partially true),” but I said, “Yes.  Going to New Mexico Highlands University right now.  Thinking about transferring.”

“Oh. Where’s New Mexico Highlands University?”  I was no longer finding  it surprising that no one knows where Highlands University is located.

“It’s in Las Vegas.  New Mexico that is.  If you ever win a trip to Las Vegas, make sure you know what state it’s in,” I added.  I always find that funnier than anyone else ever does whom I tell it to.  “What do you do?

“I collect for charity for a living,” he said.  “I’m currently collecting for ‘basket cases.'”

A basket case usually means someone who is hopelessly off their rocker, but what my bus companion was referring to, as he explained in detail, was an offensive slang term that was coined by the British Army during World War I to describe a soldier that had lost all four of their limbs through amputation.  Known medically as a quadruple amputee.  He described that these basket cases were so-called because they put them in a sort of hanging basket so they could be held upright.  I’m pretty sure that’s not true, but what did I know.  I couldn’t believe there could be too many of these that needed his charitable work.  The mental picture that was developing in my head was shocking.

“Doesn’t matter how many there are,” he explained. “I don’t even know.  The point is it’s a pretty sad condition, don’t you think, and people will donate money for them.”

He vigorously described his “sales pitch” for my benefit.  He would go into bars, order a beer and start talking to a customer at the bar.  The conversation would inevitably get around to what he did for a living.  He would tell them horror stories about the basket cases he had seen from the Viet Nam War and that he had found it his life’s calling to collect donations for their treatment and hope for some kind of life.  He even invented a name for his charity.  I don’t remember what it was, because after he said this, “Hell, I even give them a receipt for tax purposes if they ask for it,” I right away understood what “I collect for charity for a living” meant.

“How much do you make collecting for these basket cases?” I asked. 

“I make a living,” he said.  “Do you want me to help you practice a sales pitch?”

“Uh, no,” I answered and tapped Murph on the shoulder who was seated in front of me.  “How much farther we got?”

“Not long,” he said.  The man turned away and watched the passing scenery, or lack of.  Not much to see in this part of Texas, although you can literally see for miles.  Flat.

When we arrived on the campus of West Texas State University, now West Texas A&M University, after a short walk from the bus station, two things stood out to me.  One, all the men seemed to be wearing ROTC uniforms.  The other, all the girls were in dresses, no pants, no jeans, no shorts.  At Highlands, in 1971, a lot of the girls wore bib overalls, usually with nothing underneath, halter-tops were big, bell-bottomed jeans, short shorts, and we heckled anyone walking around campus with a military uniform of any kind.  Entertainment was 10 cent beer night at La Casita, or sneaking into Joe’s Ringside, the strip joint with the clever girl who could launch ping-pong balls into the crowd, or eating greasy fries at 2 am at The State Cafe.  I was about to be introduced to the Bible Belt.

We found the administration building and, even though we told no one we were coming, the attractive girl…in the a dress… at the information desk was able to get me in to talk with someone in the admissions office.  Murph declined and said he would meet me back here in a couple of hours.  I have no idea what he did during that time, but I got the sales pitch of the century.  Yes, I was still accepted to attend school there, my financial aid package was still good, my program of study was the best on campus and in the state even, (Which was funny because I really didn’t have a “program of study.”  I just made one up, Pre-Law), I would fit in well with the student population (I did not believe that for a minute), we could get all the paperwork done today and be ready to attend classes Spring semester.

I looked out the window and saw an Army ROTC group drilling on the quad.  Two girls walked by in frilly dresses.  I turned back to the task at hand and completed the transfer paperwork.  I shook hands with the admission’s counselor and thanked him for helping me on such short notice, and told him I was looking forward to attending school there starting in two weeks.  As I walked out the door I knew with certainty that there was no way in HELL I was going to be going to West Texas State University.  The first obstacle would be that my parents had no idea I was even thinking about it.  I couldn’t figure out how I was getting back here in two weeks.  I didn’t know anybody.  I had already registered for classes at NMHU.  I was in a fraternity that had no chapter on this campus and fraternities and sororities on this campus probably held Sunday Socials, not the Saturday night kind of which I had become accustomed.

“Your left. Your left. Your left, your right, your left.”  I could hear it coming from the lawn as I met up with Murph who was sitting on a garden wall out front.

“Well, whatta ya think?” he asked. 

“Not a chance in hell,” I said.

“Good,” he said.  “Let’s go home.”

We took the bus back to “Amarilla,” as they say in Texas, and, with our remaining funds, bought some provisions for the trip back to Vegas.  Two more cans of Vienna Sausages.  Although I’ve never developed a taste for them, I ate most of one of the cans during the trip home. We made it back to campus late the next morning.  I was to attend New Mexico Highlands University for only two more semesters.


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Ramblings From the Land of Enchantment

New Mexico Chile.  Or is it New Mexico Chili?  Spelled either way, it’s one of things I missed the most when I moved from New Mexico in 1991.  You just can’t get GOOD chile any place else and if you’ve never had any chile from Hatch, NM, I know what you’re missing.  Chile, by the way, is the correct Spanish spelling of the cayenne pepper.  The Anglo spelling is the one with the “i”.  The misspelling probably started with the Americanized version of the dish, “Carne con Chili” which means “meat with chili,” or as Nalley’s, Libby’s and everyone else in New York City calls it, “Chili con Carne.”  

My daughter, Stephanie, surprised us with our chile ristra the other day.  I’m not an expert on chile by any stretch, but I knew to hang it by the front door.  Traditionally, when the ristra (Spanish for “string”) is hung in the doorway, it’s an invitation to visitors, but it’s really to continue the drying process in a well-ventilated area.  I just like how it looks.  And it’s eatable.  After drying, the chile can last up to two years.  You can chop it, grind it into chile powder, make sauces, add it to soups, if you cook that is.  I don’t.  It will most likely just continue to hang on my front porch.

Fall in New Mexico is one of the best times of the year.  The lingering warm days and crisp nights are a welcome change from hot desert summer days.  The swamp cooler is no longer running continuously to keep the house cool.  The lack of  the fan noise is noticeable.  The leaves start to gather on the porch and the corners of the yard.  And football.  Let’s not forget football.  The University of New Mexico Lobos are not very good this year.  At least that is the word on the street.  They lost their first game 14-10 to Colorado State, then a shellacking in Arkansas 52-3.  They let the Texas Tech Red Raiders take them out at home 59-13.  They entertain Sam Houston State on Saturday.  I don’t know how entertaining it will be for Lobo fans, but I’ve never heard of Sam Houston State, so maybe they have a chance.  It’s all about the tailgate party anyway.

Soccer is big down here.  I’m not really a rabid soccer fan, but my granddaughter, Cheyenne, and my grandson, Conner, both play.  We went to Cheyenne’s game last weekend.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I’m sure it’s because she was playing, not because I’m suddenly going to like the game.  Maybe when I understand the rules more it will make more sense?  What I could see is there is a lot of constant running.  You had better be in shape…or young…if you want to play soccer.  There’s a lot of kicking going on too, and the game can get a little violent with all the high speed collisions trying to chase down the ball.  Speed is key here.  You have to be fast to be really good at it, I think.  But it’s a game enjoyed on a warm fall day on a grass field, so it can’t be all bad.

On this date in 1879, Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time, for of all things, stealing a basket of laundry.  He subsequently broke out of jail and became an Old West legend.  He is credited with 21 murders during his days as a horse thief, cattle rustler, gambler and gunslinger.  History credits him with only six murders, maybe nine.  William H. Bonney, born William H. McCarty, was shot and killed by the legendary Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881.  He was 21 years old.  Fort Sumner is about 120 miles southeast of here.

Well, I’ve got things to do, people to see, and places to go, so I’ll end this rambling from the Land of Enchantment with this notable quote from the GOP debates last night from past New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson.  “My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”


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We Still Can’t Find The Shoes….Continued.

The staging area. See any boxes in there labeled "shoes?"

I needed to get the LG over to the “interim” storage unit.  The new “staging” area where I was moving all the stuff from the house, which I had to vacate by August 31st, in preparation for loading it again for resettlement in New Mexico.  I didn’t think I would be able to get it into the back of my pick-up truck.  It would fit okay, but it would take four or five people to lift it, I figured, and I couldn’t conjure up four or five people at one time who would be willing to help.  We macho men tend to think we have more strength than we do, which is a grave miscalculation that would inevitably come into play.

So I remembered that a friend of mine had a motorcycle trailer.  We could load the LG on the trailer and tie it down for the short drive to the storage place.  Shannon and Chad agreed to help the weekend before I had to be out of the house.  We bartered some furniture in exchange for the use of the trailer and extra “man”power, but I’m sure they would have helped anyway.  I chose not to put Charlie in harm’s way for this particular maneuver, which was probably a good thing, because we might have come up with the idea of having him ride on the trailer to hold the refrigerator upright.

The LG went up the ramp on the motorcycle trailer with little effort.  We then proceeded to tie it down with every available rope, tie-down, and bungee cord we could find.  This trailer is a flat-bed with no walls, so it just stood there, proudly, like it was tied to a stake.  We went about two blocks when I noticed, in the side-view mirror, that the LG was rocking from side to side.  We pulled over and I tightened up its restraints and we continued on.  We had about five miles to negotiate in traffic, with several left turns, but Chad was driving very carefully.  We were getting a lot of one-finger salutes and curse words floating through the air as cars and trucks whizzed by us.  I couldn’t look in the side-view mirror anymore.

“If it falls over, Chad,” I said, “just keep driving.”  He nodded affirmatively.

We pulled into the storage unit and unloaded the LG without further incident.  Here it would remain for another month.

The LG had now been moved twice, and we were into Plan C.  This was going to involve renting the U-Haul truck to load the refrigerator which would stand up in the truck, the truck had a ramp, and I was going to rent an appliance dolly which has longer handles so my arms did not have to become part of the moving device.  I had it all arranged for September 1st.  You should by now, know what happened to Plan C.  The storage yard refused to give me the extra day to move the LG without charging me for the full month.  https://whatthefluffy.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/i-told-her-i-was-going-to-tell-everyone-i-knew/

So we had no choice but to move the LG again.  This time, my friend, Danny, convinced me that we could load the refrigerator into the back of my pick-up.  Just the two of us and a hand truck.  I was desperate.  We had been drinking.  “Piece of cake,” Danny kept repeating.  I now have arms two inches longer than I had before the move started.  As we pulled and lifted the LG into the back of the truck, it started to tilt to the left, hit the sidewall of the truck and put dent number two in the titanium doors.  But we got it in, and with some effort were able to stand it up in the bed of truck and lash it down with ratchet tie-downs and bungees.  Our destination was twenty-some miles away to Danny’s garage.  We pulled in an hour from the time we had started out.  We sat there staring at the LG, pretty sure that we were not going to able to lower the heavy box down to the driveway without some help.

Right about that time, someone they knew from down the street, drove by.   They yelled out to him and he stopped.  He was a big dude.  So we decided with him and Danny on the ground and me up in the bed holding the hand truck, we could lower the LG safely to the ground.  Lets just say it didn’t go as easy as it was envisioned.  That thing weighs a lot.  But we got it to the ground without any further damage, except to my arms, which now hung limply at my sides.  “Piece of cake,” Danny said for the thousandth time.  We thanked the dude, and made a drink.

I picked up the U-Haul truck the morning of September 1st, at a plant nursery as far south of town as you could get.  I requested a pick-up at the huge U-Haul dealer on South Virginia, but I guess U-Haul spreads the business around.  I had made the reservation on-line the week before.  The truck ran but had not been cleaned and I could barely see out of the windshield.  After negotiating it into the driveway, I called my friend, Roger, who had agreed to come over and help me load the LG into the truck.  Moving the LG had now involved eight different people, not counting myself.

Within a few minutes, the LG was loaded into the U-Haul, and wrapped securely in blankets for the thousand mile trip to Rio Rancho.  I just want to say here, that moving a large appliance is done very easily with an appliance dolly designed specifically for that purpose.

See how those refrigerator magnets hide the dents?

The LG stands proudly now, doing it’s thing, in the new kitchen.  It makes lots of ice for the much-needed drinks.  I marvel sometimes that it is here.  For two and a half months it dominated my thoughts.  I should have sold the damn thing.

Oh, the shoes.  There were two boxes of shoes, my wife’s shoes, dress shoes, boots, lots of shoes.  They vanished somewhere between the house, the storage unit, Danny’s garage, and Rio Rancho, NM.  I know they were loaded at some point.  I know there was nothing left behind after everything was loaded, but the shoes are not here.  The shoes now dominate my thoughts.  I have retraced every step in my mind to no avail.  I can’t remember the two boxes of shoes.  The two boxes have just vanished.  We’ve opened almost every box.  We still can’t find the shoes. 


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I Told Her I Was Going To Tell Everyone I Knew!

I’m moving to New Mexico.  Yes it’s in the United States, and yes they speak English.  I’m just pointing that out, because when I worked for Mountain Bell back in the day, I would get those two questions a lot when people called in to the Business Office.  That’s what they called it, the “Mountain Bell Business Office.”  I held the distinction, at the time, of being the only male service representative in the state.  I think I was the only male service rep in the entire company, but it was during the time they were trying to get people into “non-traditional jobs,” like putting girls up poles, and putting guys in desk chairs.  It was a whole different “consent decree” world for the Bell System and a few years short of its breakup as a monopoly.  The Consent Decree was signed with the Federal Government to insure that woman and minorities would be hired in a reverse discrimination method that favored woman and minorities, however it also got me my first job when I dropped out of college in 1973.

So, I’m moving, relocating, whatever you want to call it, and I clearly understand that every expense I incur is tax-deductible.  Especially since I am relocating, technically, to find work.  The unemployment rate up here in Nevada is still running in the double digits.  Not a good place to find a job.  New Mexico is a little better, but not great, but my daughters and their families live there, and I lived there for 12 years back in the late 70’s and 80’s.

The move has been a coordination nightmare.  I’ve had to move out of a house, put stuff in a storage unit, make two runs down to New Mexico with a cargo trailer, and I still have a load left.  It was left in a storage unit at “RR Self Storage” (Double R Self Storage) in Reno, Nevada.  I paid for July, and I paid for August.  Ninety-five dollars a month.  Paid up until the 31st of August, but I needed one extra day.  ONE extra day because I was working until the 31st and wasn’t getting the rental truck until September 1st, Thursday.  I didn’t want to pay another $95 for one day.

So I read on the “Notice of Intent to Vacate” that I could notify them “before the 1st” if I needed an extra day or two into the month and they would pro-rate the rent.  They “would be happy to accommodate” this one time request.  In bold letters it says “Partial Rent Will Not Be Refunded.”  And it also explains that if you are not out by the pre-arranged move out day, you will be charged for the full month.  Seemed fair and it was the 26th of August.  Almost a week before the 1st.

So I go into the office with my “Notice of Intent to Vacate” filled in with September 2, 2011 as my last day of occupancy, after I got off work on Friday.  I will have the U-Haul truck on the 1st, and will load it then, but I figure one more day just to be safe.

I hand the form to the rotund (trying to be nice) girl on the other side of the counter, and I had to reach out pretty good because she’s pretty rotund.  And she just says, “Okay” and puts in on the work surface behind the counter.

I says to her, “You’re going to pro-rate those last two days, right?

“Nope,” she says, if you leave on the 2nd you’ll have to pay for the full month.”

I looked at Her Rotundity in surprise.  “It says here that you will be happy to pro-rate the rent if I let you know before the first.”  I leaned over the counter and pointed to the sheet.  I’m not that rotund.

Her Rotundness turns (not a pretty sight) and starts to walk away.  Turns back to me momentarily and says, “If you leave on the 2nd you owe for the full month?”

“Ninety-five dollars for one day,” I scream.  No… I screamed it.

“Yes,” she says.

“That doesn’t seem fair,” was all I could say.  I scooped up the vacate notice and said that I wasn’t moving until the end of September then.

Her Rotundity’s cheery and helpful response, said in a syrupy attempt at customer service, “Sure, why rush.  Take your time.  You have the whole month.”

That’s when the steam blew out the ears and I turned and got out of there before I hurt someone or something.

I sat in my truck down the street and read, and re-read the clause about being happy to pro-rate the rent.  Then I read it again.  It still said to me that if I let them know before the first, they would pro-rate any extra days, but then it said in bold type again, no day to day rent allowed.  Sounded contradictory.  Then it hit me.  I would need to know a month ahead of time when I would be vacating the space for them to be happy to help me and pro-rate the rent.  In other words, I would have had to tell them before August 1st, that I was not leaving until September 2nd.  The clause is written so as to completely confuse the renter, who will almost always think that they are going to pro-rate the rent for them if they tell them before the first of the month that they will only need it for a few more days.

Then I thought, well the rent may be do on the first, but they don’t lock me out until the third, and don’t charge me a late fee until the 5th.  So I could clean the unit out on the first anyway, and let them try to get the $95 out of me.  By the time all the late fees and penalties were added up, I would owe them more like $200 though.  They might go after that.  Plus they didn’t say they had to wait until the third to lock me out, so they could technically do it on the first when rent was due which would put me in a real bind from a coordination standpoint.  And they now knew that I was moving out on the 2nd.

We moved everything out on Saturday.  I had to re-coordinate the move schedule, the help I’m going to need, and I damn near ripped my arm off moving a refrigerator in the back of a pickup.  Which is scary in itself because a refrigerator sticks up pretty high in the bed of a pickup truck.  And every time I move this $2,400 LG Refrigerator, it gets more dents and more scratches.  It’s been a serious thorn in my side, Jesus reference aside.

Saturday, after the last load was in my truck, I pulled into the office of the “Double R Self Storage” at 880 Maestro Drive, Reno, NV 89511, (775) 853-4466.  I crossed off the date, wrote in August 26th, and walked into the office.  I pitched the vacate notice at the same fat lady in the same black outfit sitting in an itty-bitty  black office chair creaking under the strain, and said, “Here, I’m out.”

I looked right at her and said, “Oh, and I wanted to thank you for your understanding and for helping me out.”

She said, “You’re welcome.” 

I said as I turned and walked away, “..and I’m telling everybody I know.”  So now I have.

I’ve got two questions.  Why do fat people always wear black?  Where the FLUFFY did customer service go?  That place made $190 off of me, and I would have told everyone I knew how great they were about pro-rating the last few days of rent to help me out.  Didn’t go down that way though.


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Staggering to the Polls


Will Rogers

On April 7, 1959, the state of Oklahoma repealed prohibition after 51 years of being a “dry” state. The rest of the country had repealed prohibition by ratifying the 21st Amendment back in 1933. But not Oklahoma. Just how “dry” was it?   As Will Rogers famously said, “Oklahoma will be a dry state as long as the voters can stagger to the polls.”

 Oklahoma, “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains,” entered the Union in 1907 with prohibition already written into its constitution.  You could say they were forward thinking, therefore way ahead of the national anti-liquor movement that swept the country in the 1920’s.  But the reasons were not what you might think.  It was partly because of a desire to keep liquor from the American Indians, and partly because of the strong southern conservative religious presence.  But the real reason:  Money.  Bootleggers were making a fortune, and to keep that fortune they had to have prohibition.  So why did it change in 1959? 

Prohibition Agents destroying barrels of alcohol in 1921 Chicago.

Governor J H Edmondson

 Well, in the early 1950s, Governor J. Howard Edmonson, wanting to get rid of the illegal booze trade, decided the best way to do that was to enforce the law already on the books.  So he issued instructions to local authorities to set up roadblocks, search vehicles and make arrests.  Of course, that’s what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

And it worked, but then as the liquor dried up so did the convention and conference trade when they found out there wouldn’t be any drinks served.  The average Oklahoman couldn’t find a drink either, so they “staggered to the polls” in 1959 and voted overwhelmingly to repeal prohibition.  The last bastion against the demon intoxicant was gone.

You encounter that southern religious conservative impact on liquor in other parts of the country as well.  I can remember when you couldn’t buy alcohol of any kind on a Sunday.  You could drink in a bar, but you couldn’t buy it legally to take home.  It wasn’t available in grocery stores, or drug stores, only licensed bars and liquor stores.  In New Mexico, in the 1970s, we would have friends in the military buy us beer and alcohol on Sunday because the PX on the base wasn’t under the same regulations as the stores off-base in the civilian world.  You would see pickup truck beds filled to the brim with cases of Budweiser going off base on Sundays.  If you didn’t have a friend in the Air Force,  you had to stock up on Saturday to make sure you didn’t run out during the game on Sunday should some unexpected guest show up.  Always seemed like a stupid law to me.  I think they still won’t sell alcohol on Sunday in New Mexico until after 12:00 pm.

I’m sure state liquor laws are different depending on where you are.  I know Texas has some strange liquor laws.  For example, one side of a street can be in a “dry” county in Dallas/Fort Forth, and the other side of the street has liquor sales.  I really found that amusing. 

They have night clubs in Texas where you bring the booze and the nightclub provides the mixers.  By “provide,” I mean they kind of force you to buy the mixers from them at the same price you would pay for a drink at a normal nightclub.  They’re kind of neat places though.  Long rows of picnic tables, live bands, dance floor and coolers everywhere.  I’m sure they have less of a liability too, because they ain’t servin’ you, so they can’t be held accountable.  

Then they have those beer and wine licenses that you can get in some states so you can serve beer and wine in your restaurant.  But you can’t serve demon beverages like rum, bourbon, scotch, or vodka.  I think it’s all pretty stupid, but if you look into it closely it kind of all boils down to the same reason prohibition lasted so long in Oklahoma.  It’s all about money.

See how much it costs to get a license to serve alcohol in most states.  Also how difficult it is to get one.  It’s a big business and a highly regulated business here.   In New Mexico, for example, it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to procure an existing liquor license.  So if you own a liquor license there, you sure don’t want any more issued by the state control board.  You can retire on what you’ll make off of your license when you sell it, and many have.

So, even though its not “National Prohibition Day” or anything like that, kudos to the state of Oklahoma for repealing prohibition on this date in 1959.  For finally going along with the rest of the country after 26 years of holding out, and for all the right reasons, if there are any.

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