Red Bank (1)
By the mid nineties I had determined on a long range plan
of living in
Early in 1997 I prepared for this move to the southwest along two lines.
First, I began disposing of movable property, getting rid
of some things and storing others. I
found storage space for free in the basement of a church in
I also began making my business portable. I had computers and cables spread out over a whole room. Disassembling and packing all these machines would be a day’s work, and another day’s work to reassemble them after a move. These computers included one for my programming bench, one for my desk, and three servers. So I designed and built a rack, with casters, on which the three servers could be mounted, along with a shared monitor and a few other gadgets, such that the rack could be moved with all the computers and cables in place, excepting only the machines for my desks. I further bought steel shelves to hold business supplies and household items, and designed a way easily to attach handles to each rack such that two men could pick up a rack and carry it the way a man is carried on a stretcher.
Second, I identified three counties in
Only one responded. From the Lordsburg Chamber of Commerce I received various promotional materials, a telephone directory, a county road map, and a recent issue of the Liberal, the weekly newspaper. So I determined on Lordsburg as my tentative destination; and I conceived, and acted upon, the masterful idea of ordering a subscription to the paper, that I might familiarize myself with the town and its people before even making the first trip to see it.
I began these preparations with no clear idea of how, or when, to go about making a move to the west. I did know that I had to stay in the east, near my clients, until such time as I felt confident I could handle all aspects of their support from a distance.
As it happened, in the middle of 1997 I was approached out
of the blue by a lady who wanted to buy my house for renovation and
resale! And she offered me more than I
had ever thought the house would bring, and more than three real estate men
thought it would bring. But I was hardly
prepared to go west. So I went south
instead, letting the house go and taking an apartment in Red Bank, a suburb of
And as it happened, it was in Red Bank that I made my first entrance into the hispanic community. Two floors above my flat there lived three gorgeous venezolanas [venezuelans, female]. These were Jelitza, a divorcee in her thirties; her teenage daughter, Jordania, a high school student; and her best friend, Ligia, a girl in her twenties.
These spoke no english, nor did anyone else at the apartment complex speak spanish. But I determined to give it a try. One evening, as they left the pool and passed my patio, I summoned up the courage to get out –¡Buenas noches! [good evening, good night] as they passed.
The response was only a faint echo of my own greeting. But I was later to learn that I had made a strong impression indeed. They spent the rest of that evening discussing what might be the meaning of this, a gringo neighbor who bade them goodnight in their own language.
One attempt at communication led to another, and before too long Jelitza, Ligia, and I were spending an afternoon a week at a pleasant picnic table in the yard teaching each other our respective tongues.
© 2004 Joseph Mansfield