Bruce in Santa Fe, haggling

March 22, 2011

Bruce continues:

We must backtrack to Santa Fe to finish the story of the Native American who sold Ms Keogh earrings, with whom I haggled over the cell phone and did succeed in having the price reduced.

When Honda completed the brake job and I was able to rejoin Ms Keogh, she introduced me to the woman who sold her the earrings. She was part of a group of Native American sellers who sat beneath the veranda of the Governor’s Palace with their wares set out on blankets. Upon being introduced, this Native woman claimed I was the first Jew she ever met.

It was Ms Keogh who had told her I was a Jew from New York, as if that was the excuse for my desire to haggle. Then, since I was at the Honda dealership, she handed her cell phone to the reluctant Native woman to speak to me. Now I was meeting the woman in person. I wondered if she was being honest about me being the first Jew. There are synagogues in Santa Fe. With less than 76,000 residents, there are five synagogues. There was even some kind of Jewish center a block away. Did she intend “Jew” because I was haggling, meaning to be offensive? I found out later from my host that you’re not suppose to haggle with the Native Americans. What did I know? There are cultures surrounding the Mediterranean that will not respect you if you don’t haggle, and their descendants live in New York. Anyway, I explained to the woman that she has probably met other Jews and just didn’t know it. And I admitted I thought haggling was fun and didn’t mean to insult her by trying it.

The conversations I’ve had along the way make up a great part of this adventure. There was the Navajo woman behind the counter at Chee’s Indian Store. It was a necessary pit stop, otherwise we would not have given it our attention. I learned that she had never seen the ocean, either ocean, and had no particular desire to see them.

I had a conversation with a bartender in Flagstaff. She grew up in Flagstaff. She was educated in Flagstaff, even took a degree from the local university. She has visited other parts of the world, but Flagstaff was home and she loves it there. She does not like the present governor.

While in Flagstaff, I spoke with the shop salesman who sold me my cowboy boots. I told him I wanted American-made. “What about Mexico?” Ms Keogh asked. I replied that Mexico was in America. But the saleman told me that for long walks or for working to buy Chinese-made Ariats, these being the most comfortable of the cowboy boots. He explained, “They were designed by an American woman who used to design Nikes.” He then displayed the boots he was wearing, also Ariats. So I bought them.

We also looked at buckles for my belt, but they were to gaudy for my tastes. He showed me his belt buckle, solid silver. It looked to me like something you’d win at a rodeo. He told me how a German once tried to buy it from him, but he wouldn’t part with it for any price. I said, “It looks like the kind of buckle you have to merit.” “Yep, that’s right,” he replied. After that he stopped calling me cowboy and seemed more sincere and he didn’t try selling me a cowboy hat.

Tonight we are in Oakland, California, my sister’s apartment.

One Response to “Bruce in Santa Fe, haggling”

  1. tess.keogh Says:

    Thanks so much for the entertaining accounts of your travels, and for the postcards.

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