The Ham

Welcome to New Mexico


I have an accent, they say. Well yes, I grew up in Europe, though was born in Connecticut. My first trip to New Mexico was two months ago when I followed the love of my life here. We packed up the car in Irvington, New York, and drove through states I never expected I’d see in my lifetime. What a beautiful country. Not to say that some states aren’t a bit long to drive across: I’m thinking Arkansas and Texas especially.

Danny was born in Alamogordo and he graduated high school in Ruidoso, so I didn’t know for sure if my future home would be in an unexpected ski resort or down in the Tularosa Basin. I stand corrected: There never was a choice – the desert it would be. We found the home we could afford in Tularosa.

Having lived in three foreign countries and visited many more, I thought I knew a thing or two about kindness. Well, I stand corrected.

After a quick turnaround drive back east to get our furniture, Danny and I settled in our new home. Our favorite neighborhood shopping trip turned out to be to the Family Dollar. Not just for the prices or the plentitude of household basics, but also for the kindness. Within days of our arrival, Darryl (I’ve changed people’s names for privacy) greeted us on a first-name basis. He elegantly welcomed us to Tularosa, and we became instant members of his clientele. This was phase one of our welcome

Phase two occurred soon after our final move, when I went to the shop to load up on everything from dish soap to cat litter for the two cats that came with the house (had I known we would have offered a $100 more – or at least I would have).

All in all, I left Family Dollar with half a dozen plastic bags that I loaded into the car. Once home I did a double take. I could have sworn I’d bought a tablecloth. I recalled spending a good minute or two pondering whether a 6x10 would work on a small round table, or a 4x12. It was blue, I swear. But no tablecloth made it out of those bags. The tablecloth was the main reason I’d gone to the store. Danny must have wondered, but didn’t say anything. Flustered but resigned, I let it go. One gets used to living with the occasional memory lapse after all.

You may be wondering by now when the ham comes in. Well, a week or so later we stopped in the store on the way out of town and a lovely young clerk dropped what she was doing to come speak to us.

“You left a bag here the other day. It had a tablecloth in it and some canned peaches and an ice tray.”

To say that she saved the day would be to minimize it. I almost broke down crying I was so happy I hadn’t made up the tablecloth story.

“You can go pick out another tablecloth if you like. I’ll grab the other stuff.”

And so, I did.

A week later we were in the store again (yes, we have become regulars). Once again, Sarah rushed up to us and apologized.

“I forgot to mention the ham. You also had some ham in that bag. Let me get it for you.”

She raced to the refrigerator and handed me a plastic container of deli ham. Unfortunately, we weren’t going straight home so we had to leave the ham there where it would stay cold. I had completely forgotten about that item. We promised to stop by another time to pick it up.

A few days later I popped in, but Sarah wasn’t there. I approached the cashier.

“Is Sarah here? I left some ham in the fridge…”

Words fail to describe the look he gave me. Incredulous I suppose is how I’ll leave it. Embarrassed, I apologized and quickly ran back to the car.

“Forget the ham. I just made a fool of myself in front of the entire town! I’m never bringing it up again.”

The next day we were back (yes, as I said, we are faithful clientele) and who should come smiling out from behind the aisles than Sarah.

“Hey, we came to get the ham,” we half-joked.

“No problem. It should be in the fridge.”

To our chagrin, all that was left was one lonely package of sliced turkey. We took it. This is but one of many kindnesses I encountered upon moving to New Mexico. I will always remember each and every one. And sliced turkey will never taste so good.