My Arizona Mexican Experience

I tend to avoid politics on the weekends, and social issues virtually always. My rule is that if the Wall Street Journal and National Review are at each other’s throats, I want no part of the fight. Illegal immigration has many passionate supporters on both sides of the issue as I am determined to stay out of it.

Yet on this quiet Saturday, I want to share my Arizona Mexican experience. This anecdote is not meant in any way to advocate a policy. It is simply a story I have been wanting to tell for some time. Just take it for what it is.

Several months ago I was supposed to speak to a Republican Women’s group in the greater Phoenix area. The drive from my home in Los Angeles to Phoenix is normally 5 1/2 hours. Rumors that I once did the drive back in 4 1/2 hours will not be confirmed in case any of the Arizona county sheriffs read my blog.

I left myself over 6 hours, and went during the day to avoid traffic as much as possible. I left home before 12:30pm for a 6:30pm event. Yet on the way there, I made a very bad mistake.

I had about a half of a tank of gasoline when I reached Quartzite, Arizona. I decided not to stop, unaware that for the next 50 miles there was nothing. In a stunning turn of events, my gas tank started rapidly going down. I cannot explain or understand why, but I was about to run out of gasoline and I was nowhere near a gas station.

I decided not to wait until I officially ran out. It was still light out, and I felt that if I was going to be stranded, it would be better not to be in the Arizona desert after dark. I called AAA, and waited for over an hour. I began flagging people down, but nobody had gasoline. Most of the people passing me were truckers, and all they had was diesel.

To make matters worse, I had forgotten to take into account the time change. Some times during the year Arizona is on West Coast time. Yet at this time of year, because they never change the clocks, they were an hour ahead. I hate non-conformists.

I called the women running the meeting, and let them know that there was no way I would make it by 6:30pm. Their meeting ended at 8:30pm, and maybe I could make it by 7:30pm. Because they had other business, they were willing to shift the schedule.

Yet the groups of people that saw me on the road fell into three categories. Some people kept on driving. Others apologized for only having diesel. Others stopped and empathized, which was of no help. A couple people promised to come back, which of course did not happen.

Things were getting desperate, and the ladies called me again to let me know that even if I could make it by 8pm, that would be ok. To have already driven for several hours to miss a meeting was not a good thing.

Finally, a ray of hope arrived.

One very small truck stopped. Three men were all sitting in the front seat. They were Mexican, and did not speak a word of English. I do not speak Spanish.

I have no idea if these men were here legally. At that moment, it was really not a concern.

Using my hands, I said the word “gasolina.” They understood that I needed some. I pointed to them and myself and kept saying “Dinero.” “Gasolina.” “Dinero.” “Gasolina.”

They understood what I meant. The driver was named Jaime. He had gasoline, and a funnel. Say what you want, the guy was prepared. He attached the funnel to my car, connected a hose, and began putting gasoline in my car.

After putting what seemed like a decent amount of gas in my car, I tried to give him $20. He tried to refuse it. I absolutely insisted he take it. I tried to give him more, but he refused.

He looked at the $20, and motioned to one of the other guys to put more gas in my car. I tried to refuse, but even without speaking English he wanted to make sure it was an honest transaction.

After putting more gas in my car, I tried to give him another $10. He adamantly refused.

He then held up his finger to say “Wait. Hold on.” He went to his car to get something. He then came back and handed it to me.

It was a canteloupe. The guy gave me a canteloupe for crying out loud. I had to accept it. When somebody offers you a gift, you accept it. I did not offer him money because he would have been insulted.

I just kept saying “gracias” to the three men and told them my name. As I prepared to leave, AAA finally showed up. AAA gave me more gasoline, and I gave them much lessĀ  money.

Thanks to Jaime and his friends, I made it to a gas station and filled the tank up. I managed to get to my speaking event at 8:15pm. I spoke for 15 minutes, and the crowd loved it. I even made some money selling books.

Again, my experience is not meant to advocate any policy change. I am certainly not saying that we should allow every illegal immigrant to come here just because three people who may have been legal anyway were nice to me.

What I am saying is that when dealing with this issue, remember that it is not about inanimate objects. Tax policy is about things. Illegal immigration is about people.

Would my attitude be different had the men beaten and robbed me instead? Of course. We are all shaped by our experiences. However, my experiences were what they were, and I am thankful that while hundreds of white Americans drove past me, three Mexicans stopped to help a guy in desperate need.

Illegal immigration is a complex issue, but the people involved are human beings. A fraction of them might be criminals, but the great majority of them are just people, blood and plasma like you and me.

I am forever thankful to Jaime and his two friends for rescuing an American citizen stranded in the Arizona desert.

That is my Arizona Mexican experience.


One Response to “My Arizona Mexican Experience”

  1. There’s one more great point here: Republicans are human beings too.

    What a great story, eric. I am so very happy you shared that with us.

    I was driving home from work yesterday, battered, dirty and tired (I do tough physical work these days for embarrassingly little compensation – but I’m in great shape!). A block from work I see a hispanic-looking fellow standing next to his car, on the side of the road, with his emergencies on. He’s at a stop-intersection, just a few yards from me. I stopped, and leaning out my window I called out to him, “You okay?,” and he said (with a distinct Mexican accent), “Yeah, yeah, I’m okay. I have friends coming.” I said, “You sure you’re okay?” I meant it, and he could tell. “Yeah, thanks!” he said. He came off like he wasn’t being proud, but rather really did have friends on the way. It’s a very safe, well-developed area, with very low crime, so he really was okay.

    Just the same, I saw a man broken down on the side of the road and offered my help, just as Jaime did for you. This has nothing whatsoever to do with political ideology – in more ways than one. This is about being a good man, a good person. We should never forget that just like everyone else, Mexicans are people too. You said that very well here.

    This is one of the finest blog posts I’ve read in a long time, Tygrrrr – and I mean blog posts from the everyone in the political blogosphere in gerenal. Thank you for reaffirming my faith in mankind. I do wish more Republicans invited people into their personally unique stories. I think you guys spend so much time preaching the ideology, that you dehumanize yourselves. You, in a sense, become the ideology in the eyes of people who disagree with you. You are human beings too. Please keep reminding people of that, and then perhaps one day we won’t see so much “Ideological Bigotry.” ;)

    Thanks again, JMJ

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