A Bad People Encounter
I didn't expect to be sharing a gripe so soon. After all, I'm spending time in a serene desert setting in west Texas. But after 7 months of "feeling the love" from caring friends and strangers, my people encounter yesterday was a blow. I may never be able to truly understand what it feels like to be hated for the color of my skin or my sexual orientation, but I had a tiny taste of hate.
The tiny community of Terlingua, TX is where I had my encounter. It's a quirky "town" of about 60 residents who live scattered in the hills, some in trailers and some in adobe buildings that once housed miners.
Loners and wanderers moved back to the area years ago and now it's a place that attracts "off the beaten track" tourists.
I drove up to Terlingua to catch the sunrise yesterday, after I dropped Don off at his class. I parked his new, obnoxiously shiny Toyota truck at the edge of the empty, gravel parking lot.
I snapped a couple pictures of the sun rising, but the photos weren't worth my effort. I turned instead, to take a picture of Terlingua's main focus, the Starlight Lounge, where Don and I had eaten the night before.
A Cast of Characters
Don and I love the people we've met in past years, at the restaurant/bar. Even the loner locals at the bar, are willing to tell their stories if given a chance. As I snapped a photo of the building that had once entertained miners with movies, a white work truck suddenly pulled up, perpendicular to my Toyota.
A man in dusty work clothes climbed out. He glared at my vehicle as he pulled some kind of hose out of the truck bed. I smiled, then shrugged at his non-greeting and strolled up the dirt road towards the old church. I was up the road a bit before I heard the man's angry voice. I turned to see who he was yelling at and realized it was me.
"MOVE THE TRUCK!" He sounded enraged. "I'm sorry..." I called down, in a confused tone, that seemed to anger him all the more. As I moved towards him, he continued waving his arms at my truck. Suddenly I saw the truck with new eyes. It did look totally out of place, like it was posing for a Toyota Tundra commercial.
I couldn't understand all he said, but the f-word came out loud and clear, about 5 times. I attempted to apologize for parking in the wrong place. "I didn't realize..." but he cut me off. "Just move the F-ing truck!" Then he snarled again. "You're probably from Dallas!"
Cars of Terlingua
I suddenly realized, that my brown truck with its shimmering paint was more of an issue, than my parking job. (My vehicle looked nothing like the whimsical, painted car parked in the nearby scrub.) "I'm not from Dallas." I said calmly, but he refused to make eye contact.
The man stomped down the hill before I had a chance to prove I wasn't some spoiled Dallas housewife, waltzing into town with my fat pocketbook. I wanted to say, "Hey, I usually drive my Honda Element with torn upholstery." I wanted to ask, "Why do you hate me, when we haven't met?" I wanted to yank off my knit cap and point to my post-chemo hair. (that looks something between the hair of Caesar or President Obama, right now) I wanted to ask, "Does this look like Dallas hair to you!" But he was already down the hill.
I turned towards my truck and noticed a young man, holding a steaming cup of coffee. He was moving towards a rusty jeep. The young guy looked sympathetic and pointed to the area where I should park. I reparked and hopped out and started jabbering.
"How did I make him so mad? I'll bet he wouldn't have yelled at me if I'd been driving my old car..." The "drifter" who'd come to Terlingua 3 months ago, reassured me and allowed me to vent. Then he shared his own stories for a while. He sat in the jeep as he talked. He reminded me of James Dean as he mumbled boyishly, and fumbled with the steering wheel. It wasn't exactly the movie Giant, but the whole morning felt like a movie scene.
The Old Cemetery
I thanked the young man, but refused to let the evil guy run me out of town. I lingered a while at the old miner's cemetery and I wandered back up to the church. But in truth, the old man did have the power to alter my mood. All day I replayed that scene in my mind. I'm not used to being yelled at. I'm not used to being judged so quickly by the vehicle I drive, or the clothes I wear.
I'm not used to anger aimed at me. But that's really not what bugged me the most. I spent a day wondering what it was like to be discriminated against, daily. My tiny story is nothing. There are people who face hatred for no good reason every day of their lives. There are people who don't feel comfortable traveling the country like Don and me, blending in most of the time because we are a heterosexual couple, with white skin.
This morning I woke and returned to the ghost town at the same time. I sat in the big brown truck waiting in the gravel lot for that mean man, to do his routine chores.
I was going to greet him and give him a chance to show he wasn't the crabby old man I assumed he was. I was going to ask him if he liked barbecue and give him 20-bucks for the great BBQ joint down the road. But I didn't get the chance. I saw his truck heading up my way and I'm sure he saw mine, sitting alone on the lot. But he paused and turned another way.
I was mad. I headed back towards the casita, ready for a shower and breakfast. But I spotted some stables, with a sign for "Horseback-riding". My brown truck just pulled in. I needed to "move on". My 2-hour ride with Alejandro was just the ticket. We laughed and carried on and I tipped my kind guide with the twenty I had in my pocket. "Go enjoy some BBQ!" I laughed, as I left. He was much more deserving than the evil man.
My horse and guide gave me the boost I needed. I will forget the grouch and remember all the good people I've met in this area over the years. Ready to move on!
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!