Two Hours in Douglas Once a Month

crew of cute Wal-Mart carriage collectors

Once a month I drive an old lady to Super Wal-Mart in the border town of Douglas, AZ. I hang around and wait while she shops, then I take her home and help her with her groceries. For this she pays me $30 and buys me lunch at McDonald’s, where we meet when she’s finished shopping. I don’t ask for the food, she orders for me before I get there (I’m usually late) so I say thank you and eat it. We both like to check out the Mexican guys and compare notes. The lady is a 70-year-old widow, but she still likes having boyfriends. She’s actually a tough old bird and I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to date 70-year-old men who still haven’t grown up and never will!

1 lb. and 4 lb. packages of lard

Rollback! 8 lb. tubs of lard on sale

My trips to Douglas Wal-Mart are always an adventure, even if I don’t leave the store. I did leave today though, because I’m broke at the moment and Wal-Mart’s Health & Beauty Aids section is a dangerous magnet for girlie longings. Before I left I passed by the lard department. I am fascinated by the amount of lard sold around here. Lard comes from the fatty tissue of pigs and is used in Mexican and many other types of cooking. Some stores arrange the lard packages in enormous pyramids in special displays not even in the lard aisle. Back in Connecticut, no store manager would dare make a lard pyramid, no matter how much fun. Lard comes in 1 lb., 4 lb., and 8 lb. containers. The 4 lb. size is packaged two ways, your choice of cardboard box or handy plastic tub.

G Street, Douglas

Then I headed downtown. Douglas is a US/Mexico port of entry, and like most border towns, it’s gritty and bedraggled and you don’t hear much English. Some of the stores are bright spots though, even if many of them don’t bother to put their signs up in English. Douglas was established in 1901 as a smelter site for the Bisbee copper mines and it has a colorful past. The jewel of Douglas is the historic Gadsden Hotel, still in operation, still grand—but one lovely hotel can’t save a town. The city keeps trying to revitalize the downtown area, but it always looks the same, dusty and depressing. The people who work in the stores are nice though.

purses and shoes on sale for 9.99

bright dresses for beautiful girls

Marilyn Monroe lives on, in the most unlikely places

prints for sale in a shop window

got gas at Border Mart

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9 responses to “Two Hours in Douglas Once a Month

  1. Hey Debra,

    the old lady is right about old men, they can be really annoying and childish (on the other hand the same thing is right for women^^). In the hospital there are many old guys on my station who seem to be relicts of the Nazi time and also act like this. Not really nice people….

    They think they have to command about everybody in the hospital and it doesn’t matter for them that there are also people who suffer from real pain. Moreover they always molest the nurses -.-

    The town where you were seems to be nice although I’m not sure, why there is everything in Spanish. Do so many Mexicans live in Arizona?

    Take care,
    Robert

  2. Jesus! Really? The old men molest the nurses? You mean they reach out and grab at them? I wonder what they would do about that here in US. Probably strap the old guy down.

    Oh old ladies can be awful too—whine whine whine! Well we’ll see how we are when we’re 70.

    Douglas isn’t my home, but it’s nearby. It’s mostly Spanish because it’s a border town. I live a few miles away. In my town, everything is in English and Spanish both.

  3. Good post on border culture. Canola oil versus lard. I’ll take lard in my tamales. Wal-Marts abound.

  4. Actually I’ve read that lard is experiencing a comeback!

  5. An afterthought – I did take in the first line and I’m curious – why in hell’s bathroom can’t this one drive herself?? I understand that a deaf person could have a problem but why this one? I don’t know how it is out there but here, the vast majority of septuagenarians and older than that, drive. The majority of accidents on the road, at least here, are caused by teens or drunks of any and all ages. It’s sad when someone lets themselves fall into that kind of disrepair. Although granted, we’ve got the culture, vocabulary, and a good many people like those posting here, talking us into it day and night.

    • Ann, jeez, she’s old, deaf, and poor. Her kids don’t help her. This is the same deaf lady I write about. She certainly doesn’t have a car. And it’s a paying job and I need the $30.

      You absolutely do not want a deaf person on the road. You must be able to hear sirens, etc., and be aware of what’s going on around you. People on cell phones are dangerous, but a deaf person is always deaf. She has developed a “persecution complex” (my diagnosis) and thinks everybody is an asshole or being mean to her, including other drivers. This woman would be a menace on the road, hearing aid or not.

      I am angry with her for canceling her hearing test appointment after all we went through to get funding. I’m about to write her off as a lost cause. It’s almost as if she doesn’t want to get better.

      You have turned your life around and it is admirable. Not everybody has the spirit or energy or personality to do this. People get old and fold up and die, that’s what they do. There’s nothing you can do to help them, they have to help themselves. Depression is a horrible disease. I have it too but I have too many responsibilities to fold up and die. But I can see how it happens.

  6. I couldn’t agree more about a deaf person on the road, I pointed that out in my post, and was unaware this was the same person. It sounded like a different one. Yes, I have bucked the stereotype but only because I chose to. Most do not realize it is a choice. And that is what is sad. You have depression, my challenge is PTSD and there is no room in this post or the whole internet to describe this monster. But here, perhaps, is the upside of it: the horrible things that happened to me as a kid happened because I was weak and powerless. To paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, “As God is mah witness, I’ll never be weak and powerless again.” So, when I see 90 percent of my contemporaries embracing weakness and powerlessness, being complicit in their own oppression, yes, it ticks me off. Malcolm X (my hero) himself wouldn’t be able to light a fire under this bunch. I’m not talking about legitimate illness, or post-accident trauma, or situations that can’t be helped, I’m talking about pure, stone, NEGLECT. This, not DNA or luck, is what fuels the choices I’ve made. It is my moral obligation to myself to not let fate, circumstances, Moby-Dick or whatever, turn me into a child again. I hope I’ve made my stance a little clearer.

  7. Sorry Ann, I didn’t mention it was the same one. My bad. Since this post she has gotten so much worse that these trips to Douglas are no enjoyment for me anymore. I have a sore throat at the end of the day from raising my voice to communicate—something I’m just not used to.

    You’re right, people have to help themselves. I will never get old or sick or feeble because I have too many animals to take care of. Each of us has our reasons to live—but many people have no reason at all. Do we feel sorry for them or hate them? Why can’t they go volunteer? You can’t make them if they don’t want to.

  8. So very true. Nonetheless, most of them make me feel like Malcolm must have felt when confronted with Uncle Toms. The other day I was in my favorite coffee shop and a woman was up at the cash register, she had just sold her home and moved into – author pauses to puke – senior housing. “What, my husband died, what can I do with a 4-bedroom house?” she said to the cashier. I thought, what can you do? You can fill it up, dammit. Take in students, exchange workers, refugees, persons suddenly homeless, any number of things, but no, let’s do the passive whiny thing and doddle off into oblivion. Tragically, you’re right – you can’t make them if they dont want to. Keep on caring for those animals, they not only need and deserve it, they keep us moving forward!

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