Monday, February 28, 2011

snows of guadalajara

So, there I am.

Sitting in a Burger King at the Guadalajara airport with the not unreasonable expectation that I would enjoy a quiet meal. 

(Yeah.  Yeah.  I know.  Quiet Meal.  Airport.  Mexico.  Not a great expectation.)

Our Lady of the Malt Vinegar had fallen into a petulant (but silent) mood.  But, just like a well-directed version of Our Town, the next cast member entered just as the smiling employee left the stage.

With a polite "¿Con permiso?," he sat down across from me in my booth.  I thought it a bit odd.  There were plenty of empty booths and tables.  But I am never above meeting someone new.

He was one of those middle people.  Middle age.  Struggling middle class.  Medium height.   That was my five second appraisal.

I was fully prepared for the "I'm stranded in the airport" story.  That is what all of the elements looked like to me.  And it was starting to look like a very boring play.  I was really hoping for something original.

Sometimes our wishes come true in spades -- and hearts.

We went through the usual pleasantries .  Nice day.  Beautiful airport.  Mediocre Burger King food.  All in Spanish.  I was rather proud of myself.

While we were talking, at least three other people in the airport greeted him -- as if he were a fixture.

When he reached for a folder sitting next to him, I thought I knew why they knew him.  I anticipated the next item to appear on the table would be a copy of The Watchtower.

I was wrong.  It was a California title for a late model pickup.  He looked up at me expectantly.  I looked back -- confused.

He said he was trying to get the truck registered in Mexico, but he had no luck for the last six months.

I had no idea where his tale was headed, but I could see the peso notes stacking in his eyes as he readied the next round of Bluff the Gringo.  So, I cut the dance short by choosing not to be able to understand even the most rudimentary Spanish words.  A technique I find useful with Mexican policemen and military checkpoints.  Polite, but ignorant.

He must have decided I was too slow to pick up on the intricacies of whatever financial transaction he had in mind.  Away went the folder.

He then asked me a question (that I honestly did not understand) while repeatedly brushing his collar as if he were a third base coach.  He lost me on the entire exchange.

But I saw his hand move under the table.  In the upturned palm of his right hand was a small cellophane wad enclosing some form of white powder.

I looked up at him, started laughing loudly, and said: "You've got to be kidding."  Both the hand and Señor Middle disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.

I may be an advocate for the legalization of drugs, but I am not a user.  Never have been.  I do enough stupid things in life without getting involved with that silliness.

In 2001 I visited Vietnam.  While walking through the market in Da Nang, what looked like Marshal Ky's emaciated doppelganger hobbled up to me -- and hissed: "Want some marijuana?"  The last word pronounced as if it had between eight and ten syllables.

Some things have the distinct odor of police involvement.  And I had no desire to be part of either of those two events.

But the curtain was not yet ready to come down on this Thornton Wilderish layover.

There was still one act to unfold.


lauriematherne said...

Steve? Please be careful. You seem to find trouble in many of your adventures.

Felipe Zapata said...

Been living in this country 11 years, and nobody's ever tried to sell me anything illegal.

What Laurie said.

Francisco said...

Ahhh yes, "The kindness of strangers".

Don Cuevas said...

Maybe it was Ajax: (boom boom); the Foaming Cleanser?

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

This was the second time in Mexico I have been offered drugs. But it would happen from time to time in Oregon, as well. Perhaps, I just have one of those "willing-to-talk-with-strangers" face.

Steve Cotton said...

You can bet if I had paid whatever the market bears for drugs, the substance inside, at best, could be used to dust sugar cookies.

Curtiselowe said...

Danang, 1962. I walked past the market on Doc Lop street dozens of times. Did you visit the French catholic church in Danang? Or smell the drying squid on the waterfront?

Steve Cotton said...

Property is off the list. I have some qualms.

Your Name Here said...

At last a saving grace, I would be safe! I look square on the outside! May have to rereconsider visiting "Sidney Greenstreet" in the future.

Steve Cotton said...

But I know what lurks beneath.

Kim G said...

Now, I've been all over Mexico and have never been offered neither women, nor drugs, nor any other temptations. And Steve, having met you, were I a dealer in illicit substances, you would be about my last target to sidle up to in the airport.

And who in their right mind is selling drugs in an airport, for goodness sakes?!? I mean they are positively crawling with policemen.

Amazing....simply amazing.

I'll have to travel with you some day to see what I've been missing. LOL...


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where such thing don't happen to me either.

Steve Cotton said...

When I lived in Salem, I would walk the dog around midnight. Our route took us by the section of town where the hookers hung out. One night I was talking with one of the working women, and she said I better move along. A car had pulled up that she said had a member of the vice squad in it. She was certain I was not interested in a headline involving me, my dog, and a hooker.

So, none of this is new to me. I tend to be a vice attractant.