‘Tucumcari time’ confuses editor

TV Hagenah

The other day I was talking on the phone to a young man who grew up in Tucumcari and had recently returned home from college. I wanted to arrange a meeting with him so I could take a photograph for a story I was doing, and I asked him to come by the office for the picture.

“What time do you want me there?” he asked.

“How does 1 p.m. sound?

As I remember, it was right about here that I started to get confused because he answered, “Is that ‘real time’ or ‘Tucumcari time’?”

Now, usually I can get past setting the time for an interview before I get totally lost during a conversation. My wife has recently contended that it is my age coming out that makes me incapable of handling complex mental problems, like chewing gum and walking at the same time.

I haven’t the heart to tell her that the last time I was able to do those two skills simultaneously was when I was nine.
I have a terrible fear that a long-time inability to walk and chew gum at the same time may well be grounds for divorce in New Mexico, so I am trying to keep this from her as long as possible.

Getting back to the conversation with the college student. With my incredibly quick wit and lightning mental reflexes, I responded to his question with, “Huh?” (I have long been known for my rapier-like repartee).

“Real time or Tucumcari time? he asked again.

This time I responded with a “ahhh?” I did not want to waste such quick responses like “huh?” twice in the same conversation.

“You haven’t lived here very long. Have you?” he asked knowingly.

“How can you tell?” I asked fearing it was because I was wearing two-toned wingtips with a tie-dyed tee shirt that read “Free Captain Kangaroo” and a pair of lime green polyester bell bottoms. I know these things are subtle clues, but college kids are smart these days, even on the phone.

“You haven’t figured out the time difference yet. Have you?” he said.

“Time difference?”

I figured if I repeated what he said for a while, he wouldn’t know I was completely lost for maybe two or three minutes if I were lucky.

“You see,” he explained, “if the clock says 1 p.m., real time, then you add 35 minutes to it for Tucumcari time. So if you have a meeting, say at 3 p.m. then you know that no one will even think about getting there before 3:35.”

“Wow,” I said with knowledge about to dawn. “That explains why I’m always standing around for about 30 minutes when I go some place for meetings and interviews. Where did you learn this?”

“Well,” he said in a sage voice, “I never really realized it until I went away to college. I would arrive on Tucumcari time and classes would be started or meetings would be over, and then I finally understood.”

“Wow,” I said once again, “this is going to save me a lot of time. Just tonight I have to take pictures of a basketball game in Santa Rosa at 6 p.m. and now I know not to go until 35 minutes later than I was told.”

“Ahh..,no” he said interrupting my musings.

“No?” I was back to repeating again.

“No, you see, you can’t measure ‘Santa Rosa time’ in minutes. You have to do that in days.”