Posted by: fringe62 | March 7, 2011

An Illegal Alien In Mexico

Map to where I was headed

Map to where I was headed

After delivering my load earlier that morning, my dispatcher had told me to just drive South on Interstate 25 and call her before I got to Las Cruces. By then she’d have the load information and phone number for me to call my next pick-up.

I pulled into a small, dingy truck stop in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It was the middle of June and already dry. As I pulled in and watched the dust twist and roll around my trailer I realized that it wasn’t going to matter where I parked. “So much for a clean truck”, I thought as I watched other trucks pull in and out of the dirt parking lot. I knew that when I returned from inside the truck stop, my rig will have turned from maroon to a light, reddish-gold Southwest brown.

I made my way to the row of payphones in the driver’s lounge and called my dispatcher to get the shipper information. Then I called the shipper and a young woman answered. I told her who I was, what company I worked for, gave her the load number and asked if that particular load of potato’s was ready. She said it was and I told her I needed directions. She put me on hold and then a man answered. His voice was soft and deep, all business but it sounded like he was smiling and with a slow, west Texas drawl he started giving me directions.  “Well darlin’, you come on down into Las Cruces and take Interstate 10 West over to Demin’(g). Then git off onto Route 11 South about 5 miles or so and take a right onto Route 9. When you git out that way ‘bout 6 or 8 miles you’ll see the sign for our ranch. The driveway is a few miles long ‘til you git to the office.”

As I juggled the receiver on my shoulder, a pen in my right hand and an atlas perched precariously on the payphone ledge I slowly traced the route numbers on the map with my finger… and watched it slide over the US/Mexico line. “Wait a minute”, I said. “Are we still in the continental United States here?”

“Darlin’, when we git you backed into the ‘tater shed, if you spit, reeeeeeal hard, you can hit Mexico”.

“Cool!” I said. “I’ve never been that close to Mexico before!” and he chuckled.

I walked back to my rig, eased out onto the interstate and following his directions, pulled into the shipper about 3 hours later. Even though my load was ready I found out that there were several trucks ahead of me waiting to get loaded. It was going to be another hurry up and wait day.

Except for my short stop in Truth or Consequences, I’d been driving for over 7 hours and decided I needed a walk. If I was going to be this close to Mexico I wanted to get a picture. Of what, I had no idea but I would know it was Mexico.

“Which way to the shed” I asked the woman behind the counter who had just checked me in. She pointed further down the road I had just driven in on. “Is it safe to take a walk down that way?” I asked. She said it was. As is typical of the Southwest there were plenty of Mexican migrant workers around but I’d also noticed that all of the white men associated with the ranch were carrying good sized revolvers.

After grabbing my camera out of the truck I traipsed off down the road. The afternoon sun was relentless and the tall grass felt brittle as it swiped at my calves with little pinpricks and crunched under my shoes like broken glass. “I’m going to need a shower after this” I thought as another truck drove by and I felt the dust settle onto my sweaty skin.

I heard the low rumble of another diesel engine approaching from behind. This one was moving very slowly though and as I looked around a big, white pick-up truck stopped. A man who looked to be in his early 60’s got out. He was tall and lanky with skin that was tanned, but smooth, like well-oiled leather. He wore a white cowboy hat and had a long, thick, silver-white mustache.  “Darlin’, where do ya think you’re headin’?” I immediately recognized the voice from my earlier phone call.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve never been this close to Mexico and I might never get this close again so I want to take a picture of it”.

Once I said it I realized how dumb it sounded but he just threw back his head and laughed.

“Well, it’s a little warm today to be walkin’ that far. How ‘bout a ride?” he said.

“How far is it?” I asked. “I’ve been driving most of the day and thought I’d take a walk if it’s alright to do that.”

“Darlin’, take my word for it.  It’s too damn hot and dusty to be walkin’ all the way down there. How ‘bout I take you down and if you don’t think it’s too far, you can walk back.”

I thought that sounded reasonable so I hopped into the plush, air-conditioned pickup. It was a good thing I did. It turns out that it was a couple long, dry miles down to the “tater shed”.

As he slowly drove over the bumps and holes in the road he told me his grandparents had homesteaded this ranch back in the 1800’s and now he and his sons owned over 5000 acres of land on which they grew potatoes and raised cattle. I asked him about the revolvers that seemed to be at the ready. He told me that most of their ranch bordered Mexico and that they were their own border patrol. He said that most of his workers came over from Mexico to work every day but there were others that would come over and steal alternators right off the irrigation pumps, while they were running, just to make a few quick bucks. “It’s worse now than in my granddaddy’s day when the likes of Pancho Villa was runnin’ ‘round these parts” he said. He also complained about the US government trying to tell him how to run his ranch. “I built a nice apartment building on this ranch for those migrant workers to live in with their families while they worked here. Them damn government people just nickel and dimed me to death with stupid rules and regulations. I can’t understand why. These Mexicans live in shacks with dirt floors. While they work for me they have electricity and runnin’ water and them damn government people said that wasn’t good enough. I finally had enough and told them they could stick that building up their ass and demolished the whole thing!”

“You tore the whole building down”, I asked?

“Right to the ground” he said. “You’d never know it was ever there if you didn’t know where to look”.

“That’s really too bad” I said, “for everybody”.

He pulled the pickup into a field just past the ‘tater shed and he pointed over to a knee-high, barbed wire fence and told me that it was the divider between the US and Mexico. We both climbed out of the truck and looked at the fence. “You’re kidding” I said. “This is it?”

“Yup, that’s it! Really somethin’ ain’t it” he said “Give me yer camera. Why don’t you jump over that fence and I’ll take a picture of an illegal alien in Mexico!” He started to chuckle, “Now that would be a switch!”

We both laughed and I jumped over the fence, spun around with my arms spread wide… “Como esta Mexico” I said, and he snapped the picture.

An Illegal Alien in Mexico?

An Illegal Alien in Mexico?

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Responses

  1. Great story Heath, well done

  2. another story you need to write is the , I beleive somewhere in the NW you hd to back down a hill for quite some distance. Also all the trouble you had when mother was along with you. And of course, don’t forget our trip to the west coast and back. Also “bring your books in young lady” as we were checked thru on I80 somewhere in Nevada or further east, and the long time it took.

    I will be looking gforwar to seeing more.

    Dad

  3. Such a rebel! I’m loving reading these 🙂


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