Comments from the canyons: Memories of simpler times combat modern frustration

Although this woman from Ima is pleased to have been born before the computer age began, I am frustrated to be unable to win the battles with some computer operated items with which we are forced to deal on a daily basis.

For instance, filling my car’s gasoline tank is such a major operation for this ancient that I usually wind up involving most people in the area, all of whom are very kind in trying to help the old person.

Fortunately, I discovered the world in those canyons when the gas pumps were tall, stately inventions that required limited thought to operate. By the time I was 10, Uncle Bernace would hire me to spend a day two or three times a month to tend the store, post office, and gas station. I thought that was a pretty important job and received fifty cents for putting in my eight hours. That was enough for a coke or two and several candy bars. What more could that kid from the canyons need or want?

At any rate, I could read, write, and do arithmetic — the only requirements for the long day. When the mailman drove in from Cuervo, he would carry the mail back to the post office, pick up the letter or two to take with him, grab a coke from the coal-oil operated refrigerator, toss me a nickel, and be on his way to Hassell and House and to return in the late afternoon to repeat that performance. I would look at the few bits of mail he left, place them where they could be found by Uncle Bernace, and read a few items in a daily paper he received.

Sometimes during the morning, a customer might appear. That was always a nice break in the day and gave me a chance to visit as well as to wait on the neighbor. Usually, he would want a can or two of tomatoes, a pound of beans, a half-pound of bacon, and five gallons of gas. All items were to be charged. That caused me to have to make out a ticket, write all items and costs, and then to figure tax and add the total.

All business was conducted without benefit of computers. I really enjoyed pumping gas into that large bowl at the top of the pump. Most often, the customer wanted five gallons, no more, no less, and watched my every move to be sure of my accuracy. I would pump to the five gallon mark, remove the gas cap from the vehicle, then remove the nozzle from the pump, and drain the five gallons of gas into the tank.

What a simple task that was as compared to what this old person can rarely do today.

When I drive up beside the pump, it takes a look at me and decides to be as contrary as possible. I can still read, but I rarely seem to follow the directions as they are presented. Just putting the credit card into the slot causes a major battle that usually requires me to go into the store to do whatever is demanded.

In the event, I get the card in correctly, I let my hand-tremor get out of control when I am asked to enter my Zip Code. One tremble, and the gas pump goes berserk and sends me to the store to be checked out.

Life in those canyons was so easy and so wonderful! I am fortunate to have such pleasant memories in order to help combat the memories I collect today.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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