Friday, May 10, 2013

One Indian Short of a Tribe

Grange and I were wrestling in New Mexico when the call came in. Since this is our all time favorite activity, I usually don’t allow any distractions during the matches. Seeing it was the trading post, however, and thinking it might be important, I picked up. “I sold one of your Indians,” Barry said when I answered. “What?” I shouted over the din, “you sold what?” “One of your Indians,” he repeated. Thinking he may have missed the lesson about Abraham Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment, I assured him I did not own any Indians. “I think that would be both illegal and immoral”, I said in my most sincere voice. “No, no, one of your wooden Indians”, he explained.
2 Indians and 2 Anglos

My 22 years at Twin Rocks Trading Post have taught me not to get overly attached to the inventory. “Can’t get high on your own supply,” a customer recently counseled while trying to convince me that Barry and I did not need a set of Ray Lovato beads Barry had become extremely fond of. Apparently one of the shopper’s friends had been a drug dealer during the 1970s and had given him that sage advice many years ago. Additionally, Duke always says everything is for sale except Rose. When we were young, I assumed that meant he would sell Craig, Barry and me if the right offer came along. Apparently no one was interested enough to make a proposal, so we stayed on.

My Cigar Store Indians are, however, almost sacred, and Barry knows that. They have been outside the trading post as long as Priscilla and I have been inside. “How could you sell my Indian?” I wailed, astonished he would even consider the possibility. “They are part of my family, like my kids. They have stood by me, stoically supporting me through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through sickness and health. They even got me through the Great Recession“, I said dramatically.

Thinking it would ease my pain, Barry said, “Hey, let’s get Dave Sipe to carve us Barry and Steve sculptures to put out front.” “You don’t know Dave”, I explained, “He’s temperamental and won’t like that idea. Dave has provided some nice carvings over the years, but he only does what he wants to do. I estimated the odds of him doing a Barry or a Steve were low, and the odds of him doing both were about zero. When that ploy didn’t work, Barry said matter-of-factly, “She bought several rugs and baskets, spent lots of money. She wanted your Indian and was extremely persuasive. She’s not the kind of woman you say no to, so I let her have it. She’ll be in tomorrow to pick it up.”

I felt Barry was rubbing salt into my wound. He would be gone and I would have to pack up the carving and load it into the woman’s car. When she arrived the following morning to retrieve her purchase, I put on my best sad face and protested that Barry was not authorized to sell my Indian. She, however, was not buying the argument. “Hah,” she said, “the deal is done. That’s not your Indian, it’s mine.” I had to admit, she was one tough customer.

With only one Indian out front, the trading post seemed unbalanced, without hozho, so I knew I had to find a solution. When I explained the situation to Craig, he said, “Duke has three of them. Why don’t you make a deal with him? You can probably get a replacement for half what Barry got for yours. You can get yourself right and might even make a profit.”

Thinking Craig was correct and that I had a chance to out trade the old trader, I packed up my wallet and headed north to talk with Duke. It was too late, however, word of my plight had reached Blanding and Duke was way ahead of me. “Yes”, he said, I will sell you an Indian. Everything is for sale, except Rose of course, but it’s not going to be cheap.” In the end Duke got all our cash, I got my replacement, Twin Rocks Trading Post regained its hozho and Barry promised to never again sell our Indians.

With Warm Regards, Steve, Barry, Priscilla and Danny; the Team.

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