Stuck in Tucumcari – again

I DROVE INTO TUCUMCARI A FEW DAYS AGO. Tired, after eight hours on the road from Kansas, I pulled over and called my hotel, meaning the one that I found when I was stuck in Tucumcari a previous time (see HERE to read about that adventure.)

A small voice answered, “Would you mind holding for a minute…” After 10 minutes of waiting, I hung up. I drove away from Amarillo for 30 minutes and tried again. Nobody picked up. I drove another 30 minutes… still nobody picked up. After another 30 minutes I tried once more but nobody answered. I gave up.

I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT, I WAS STUCK AGAIN IN TUCUMCARI. As I drove into town, tired and upset, I mulled over what to do. A name popped into my head: The Blue Swallow. I was thinking it was a motel on the strip, so I asked Sari. She said it was and gave me a number to call. An enthusiastic voice called Kevin picked up and said he had only 2 rooms left. A suite that was expensive, and a single room that was under $90 and about what I expected. I grabbed it.

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I walked into the foyer. Kevin was about 60, friendly, and said he had a surprise for me. “You can have the suite – because nobody has rented it, and I’d like you to have it.” Wow! I was taken aback. How often do we get an unconditional gift from a stranger. My tired spirits lifted.

He showed me the suite which was compact but attractively decorated as in the 1930s. I was delighted. Even had a free-standing bathtub in a separate room from the bathroom – just like the Old Clint Eastwood movies. Also a bathrobe that I could lounge around in while glancing at some books containing local history.

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Colorful entry to my suite at the Blue Swallow.

This motel is an icon of the life in Tucumcari 50 and more years ago when the very long main street was teeming with people and lights and energy. I drove through there many times in the early 1970s. But it changed when the new freeway, I40, was built around the edge of town in the 1970s. The town died. I always feel sad nowadays when I drive through Main Street.

ON THIS TRIP, I LEARNED SOMETHING FROM KEVIN. I was tired and disconsolate before he gave me his surprise-gift. But if I had known his story, I should have given him a gift. Kevin had owned The Blue Swallow for eight years, then put it up for sale. But it didn’t sell for a year, and Kevin blamed the broker. It was a legal mess, and the broker had since left town. I could read between the lines…

Despite what must have been a serious setback, Kevin seemed to remain positive about life. He didn’t have to offer me a surprise-gift. He didn’t have to do it. It was simply a generous idea that came out of him – a spontaneous act of kindness.

I was thinking… I really want to remember to do this. Life is replete with bad days or down times for everybody, but I can still choose to bring surprise-gifts to help others. Like Kevin did. It’s probably what God would call love in action.

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The best liver and onions in New Mexico!

WITH A SPRING IN MY STEP, I HEADED FOR DEL’S CAFÉ and the best liver and onions in the world. The diligent waitress kept offering a super smile, so I gave her a $20 tip. My way, I suppose, of paying forward the surprise-gift Kevin had given to me. Another random act of kindness, as I saw once on a bumper sticker. Made me wonder if Jesus went about showing random acts of kindness. Or maybe he was too busy with all the important stuff.

Around sunset folks back at the motel were standing around or sitting out on chairs watching the day fade. That’s what people used to do in the 1930s – sit on the rocker or stand and talk to the neighbors and watch the sun go down. Nowadays we’re a bit afraid to talk to the neighbor, especially about serious things in life, because it might lead to an argument and somebody might get mad. But not in Tucumcari.

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Strangers standing around and actually talking to each other in Tucumcari.

I interrupted writing this blog to call a friend. He told me about his computer that was old and he couldn’t get programs like word.doc and pdf to behave properly. He couldn’t fill out and send in an application for a job that he needed. A thought popped into my head as I recalled this blog I was writing. I offered to help him pay for a new computer. It went quiet for a minute while he digested the offer. Then his voice rose and he spoke rapidly about what he would be able to do. Hope raced along the telephone line with his words. Another random act of kindness… all because I got stuck in Tucumcari again!

PS: I write blogs about three topics: Inspiration and Hope, and Science and Energy, and Health and Hiking.
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The Gray Nomad ….. Travel and refresh.

Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter. The best equipping is My living Presence, My hand that never lets go of yours. Discuss everything with Me. Take a light-hearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and I together can handle. Remember that I am on your side, and I have overcome the world.
[John 16:33; Isaiah 41:13; Philippians 4:13].
[From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young]

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Barbara Leachman
Barbara Leachman
5 years ago

I love liver and onions and have eaten at Del’s in the past. However, we never stayed in Tucumcari. My dad used to tell me the name of the town came from two Indians who were carrying something that would help them build their home there. One said, “One can’t carry, but two-cum-carry.” God is so good and with you paying a blessing forward, you are spreading His goodness around!

5 years ago

Great Blog Post Ian, I first visited Tucumcari some sixty years ago, before I-40, when it was a more vibrant town. This was a short visit; however it left me with a favorable impression and good memories. It is interesting how Kevin’s surprise-gift started a chain reaction that benefited not only you, but at least two other people; and who knows how many others. You have reminded us that we all should be more attuned in our interaction with others, because our actions and words, good or bad, may affect several others in kind. Sowing seeds of goodwill and happiness should be our goal. Thanks.

Karen Larre
Karen Larre
5 years ago

Beautiful, Ian. You are such an inspiration!

5 years ago

I enjoyed this story so much, I am now curious about Tucumcari and hope to visit soon. And, of course, I’ll stay at the Blue Swallow – so Kevin’s kindness may result in business for him!

The Silver Gypsies
5 years ago

A nice story Ian and a reminder to “pay it forward”.
I travelled in Arizona and Utah 2 years ago with my daughter Lyndall and we stayed in a few of those kinds of motels, which we really enjoyed. And we sat outside too!

5 years ago

I loved the acts of kindness and gagged at the liver & onions…

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