The cable office at Walmart wouldn’t open for another ten
minutes, so I wandered around the store with an espresso from Café Europa in
hand. Standing in line at the checkout, I whiled away my time looking up at the
sky-lit roof of the building, suddenly noticing an odd chemical odor and
attributing it to the stock of polyester clothing nearby. A distant alarm went
off, seeming to emanate from the parking lot. And a few people wandered toward
the exit. Finally, store employees started motioning for everyone to leave as
the alarm grew louder.
A fire, someone in the parking lot said. It didn’t smell
like fire to me.
I gave up and went to my car, only to be met by a foreigner
asking if I was Jennifer Rose. She said she knew me by my car, surely the
oldest purple Cadillac in all of Michoacan.
“A fire drill,” she insisted, adding that she saw fireman with smiles on their
faces. I figured that happy fireman were just doing the work they enjoyed.
And then on to Costco for the special of the week, coupons
in hand. In the frozen food aisle is a strange foreigner, discussing corn dogs
on his cell phone as he piled boxes of frozen French fries into his cart. Even
if the urgency of his English words about corn dogs didn’t mark him as a
gringo, his appearance did: a baggy muscle shirt, baggier shorts, and thongs.
Fat and over fifty, he kept scratching at his nether regions. Maybe the need
for immediate access to his privates dictated his wardrobe. Around these parts,
men dressed as he was, even at Costco, are about as appropriate as wingtips at
In the next aisle, another friend greets me and tells me
that he wants to introduce me to some new people. “Not that weird guy?” I ask,
pointing out the stranger. No, not him, I’m told, and we snicker.
We play a game around these parts, and it’s called Spot the
Gringo. If it’s not by some subtle body language, you can always tell them by
what they wear.
jennifer in Michoacán