Everyone makes mistakes—even the New York Times. Jonni Lu Pool of Santa Fe keeps a reminder of that fallibility stuck to her refrigerator. It seems that on the eve of the 2008 election, the Gray Lady published a map of the U.S. indicating the way each state was likely to vote. They correctly guessed the electoral votes for our actual patch of land, but then misplaced us. Remarkably, the Times’ cartographer swapped our state and Arizona, putting Lordsburg a few hours’ drive from the Pacific, and tucking El Paso close to Tombstone, Arizona. Mostly, we’re miffed that such a major move was presented in a graphic. Shouldn’t a tectonic shift like that be front-page news?

A member of the U.S. Navy originally from New Mexico told us of an experience with someone whose knowledge of our state wasn’t exactly aboveboard. “My son was born on a Navy base in Spain, so his birth certificate is a little different,” she said. In attempting to obtain a passport for him, she called the State Department and, when she told the representative that she was from New Mexico, was asked why she hadn’t contacted “the embassy.” No, our correspondent clarified, I’m from New Mexico. “I heard you,” she was told. So she asked why the state between Texas and Arizona would have its own embassy. The attendant’s tone became decidedly more, shall we say, quiet. “I realized that I just needed to go to Denver and deal with it in person,” she said. While we don’t expect State Department employees to know all 195 countries off the tops of their heads, we do suspect they should know the 50 states.

Reader Geana Garrett Rockwell hails from Las Cruces, but has spent the last 22 years in the Midwest. She notes that when family members tell their Illinois neighbors that she comes from New Mexico, they’re often asked whether she can speak or write in English. “The ironic thing,” she writes, “is that I can’t speak Spanish, but I can French!” Quel dommage!

We begrudgingly admit that not every job requires precise geographic knowledge, but we’re fairly certain selling vacation rentals is one that does. Donald and Mollie Sandoval of Williston, Florida, were on vacation recently, and got pitched a number of properties for future trips. Originally from Santa Fe, the couple thought they’d like to plan a trip back, and asked if there were any vacation properties in New Mexico. Their salesperson, with a look of confusion, responded: “New Mexico? Where is that? Is that in California?” No need to write angry letters, however, as the Sandovals made it clear: “We set her straight.”

In 2012, Doris Glassey of Guadalupita was working a cash register at the grocery store in a little resort town in northeastern New Mexico. Peak tourist season meant the place was packed, but one customer stuck out: a woman with her cart piled high with bottled water. Her daughter leaned over the cart and asked Mom why she was buying so much water. “Well, baby,” the mother replied, “we’re in Mexico now, and the water here is bad.” Glassey’s jaw dropped, but she managed to check the customer out. A few years later, she tells us, a co-worker was approached by a tourist inquiring whether he could exchange his dollars for pesos. For that, compadre, we’d recommend the currency exchange at the airport. Just make sure you get south of the border if you intend to spend those pesos.

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