Renee Finn, a Tucumcari native, wanted to send Christmas gifts back home from her current residence in Watertown, New York. When she asked an employee at a local winery whether they could ship to New Mexico, the girl said yes, but then had second thoughts: “Oh, wait, you mean out of the country? No, we can’t do that.”
Finn smiled and explained, “New Mexico, not Mexico.” Her daughter chimed in, “You know, the state between Texas and Arizona?” “Needless to say,” Finn writes, “I purchased the wine and shipped it myself.”
When Jim Sherman visited a post office in San Antonio, Texas, to mail a package to his daughter in Albuquerque, things were going smoothly until the clerk assisting him suddenly turned to a co-worker to ask whether she needed to fill out a form for international mail. “The second clerk looked at the address and informed her New Mexico was a state,” Sherman says, “and therefore no international form was required!”
TOUGH PILL TO SWALLOW
While staying in upstate New York, Rio Rancho resident Dick Blinzler tried to get a prescription refilled at Walmart but was surprised when the pharmacist told him she couldn’t refill orders from out of the country. A gentle correction that both he and the prescription were from the United States wasn’t enough, Blinzler says. “She had to call a co-worker over to verify New Mexico was really a state.”
During Pope Francis’ recent visit to Mexico, Sue and Kay Schrimsher, who grew up in Roswell, got mixed signals from a Houston news broadcast. Over a shot of Mexico City’s cathedral—complete with a giant red-white-and-green flag—the caption read, “Pope Francis Visits New Mexico.” At least the station wasn’t too far off: Later that week the pope did address millions in Ciudad Juárez, just a stone’s throw from Sunland Park.
Gary Enos, of San Angelo, Texas, noticed a worrying detail on Uber’s newsroom webpage: Though the ride-share service named Albuquerque and Santa Fe among the New Mexico cities it serves, Las Cruces was listed under Texas, sandwiched between Fort Worth and San Antonio. Let’s hope their drivers are a little handier with a map.
While checking into a hotel in Atlanta, Scott Frasard started chatting with the receptionist. In the course of the conversation he mentioned that he worked at the University of New Mexico. The receptionist eyeballed his New Mexico driver’s license before casually inquiring whether they speak English at UNM. Says Frasard: “She was completely shocked when we said New Mexico was part of the United States.”
Kay Quarles tells of the time her daughter, in the course of applying to colleges, sent an inquiry to the University of Texas at El Paso. “She received a letter back saying that it would be difficult for her to find a job and she would have to take an ESL course,” says Quarles. “We lived in Belén, New Mexico.”
Figuring that the Miners’ basketball team ought to be familiar with her hometown from trips up I-25 to play UNM, the daughter fired back a reply telling the administration to “ask Coach Haskins where Belén was.”
“Needless to say, she stopped looking at UTEP as her higher-education school,” Quarles says.
RAISING THE BAR
While serving as an infantry officer in Vietnam, Leon Knowlon took some R&R with members of his unit who liked to tease him for being from an obscure town. They headed to a Saigon bar, whose owner seemed to have “a tremendous knowledge of U.S. geography (evidently good for business),” Knowlon writes. As the soldiers were enjoying their drinks, she dropped by the table and asked, “You’re new here—where are you from?”
“I told her, ‘Aztec, New Mexico,’” he recounts. “The air went out of my friends when she said, ‘Oh, that’s in the Four Corners area, near Farmington.’ If a bar owner in Vietnam knows that, why can’t people in the United States do better?”
HAVE A “MISSING” MOMENT?
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Include your name, hometown, and state. Thanks!
Want more like this? Subscribe now!