Above: Illustration by Chris Philpot.

Sue Keefer’s husband works as a wildlife officer in southeastern Colorado. One night, he heard a state trooper call the dispatcher based in Pueblo, Colorado, and asked her to look up information on a New Mexico driver’s license. The dispatcher (who, we must note, was a mere 105 miles north of Ratón, New Mexico) responded that she couldn’t run foreign licenses. But this license was from New Mexico, the trooper replied. The dispatcher dug in her feet. So did the trooper. The dispatcher eventually ran the license and then apologized, explaining that she was … new.

After living most of his life elsewhere, Joseph Kambe moved to Albuquerque just in time to start receiving Social Security.  One of his first acts was to call the Social Security office to be sure everything was in order. But when he gave “the very nice lady” his address, she paused and then hit him with the bad news that he had to live in the United States to receive Social Security. Kambe asked for her supervisor, who, hearing of the problem, “started to laugh and said it would all be taken care of—and there would be a geography lesson.”

Jane Abbott joined a group of mostly Santa Feans on a recent trip to Nepal. While they were walking in the jungle at Chitwan National Park, their young guide asked where they were visiting from. “When we said, ‘New Mexico,’” Abbott recalled, “he said, ‘Oh, near Aruba!’” Which would put us north of Venezuela and a long boat ride from Mexico, not to mention a subsequent  drive to the newer one.

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