Friday, April 29, 2016


Last week I was working at my desk, doing the double-digit hunt and peck at my computer. Priscilla was working out front, reorganizing one of the jewelry cases and directing telephone traffic as the calls arrived. With her efficiency, Priscilla would have made Ma Bell proud. On one particular occasion she picked-up the receiver, spoke pleasantly to the caller for a few minutes, and then put the individual on hold. Hollering in to me, she said, "Hey you, Spenser is on the line." "Hey you," I hollered back, "what happened to the polished, professional receptionist I have been listening to all morning." Priscilla laughed merrily; she enjoys giving Steve and me a hard time.

Spenser Duke is my one and only son, and he doesn't call often enough. As a result I usually drop everything when he reaches out. I have discovered my children divulge relevant information on their own terms and I better be prepared to listen when the time comes. Spens is fiercely independent, and although he is going to hate me saying this, he is more impulsive than the rest of our family. If we call him, we often discover he is either on his way to Timbuktu or just getting back from some other exotic venue. Most often we had no idea whether he is coming or going. As one might guess, this drives his mother crazy. I am proud of the boy for being so adventurous, but I do wish he kept us better informed.

Today Spens was talkative and more willing to share his life experiences with me. It was turning into a fabulous conversation until he dropped the bomb, telling me he had just bought a Mexican dream vacation for a third of the usual cost. The phone solicitor was a sweet-talking girl who, somehow, discovered Spenser's zest for travel and honed in on his weakness for a bargain. "Dad, are you still there?" he questioned. "Yes, I am son" I replied," and you just caused me heartburn." The first image that popped into my head was one of my boy marooned in southern Mexico, sleeping on the beach under a blanket of sand because this holiday turned out to be a scam. "Well," Spens said, "that is why I called you. I have been thinking about it. I am worried about what I may have stepped in."

While speaking with Spens, my mind wandered back on the day I was having thus far. Earlier Priscilla and I had been talking with customers when a Navajo couple came into the store. The man asked if I spoke his language. "Well," I told him, "I was born and raised around here, so I have picked-up a little. I do know when I am being cussed at and can return the favor if necessary." The guy appreciated my jest and kidded with me awhile. He was easygoing and quite personable. His wife was stoic and not prone to conversation. Before long he asked if were buying Navajo rugs and, if so, whether I would like to see one. "Sure," I replied, "you are here so let's take a look.” The lady went out to their pick-up truck and returned with a package wrapped in a green plastic trash bag. She opened the wrapper and handed me a three-foot square weaving. Right away I knew there was a problem. We buy and sell a lot of Navajo rugs at Twin Rocks, and this one was not speaking the correct language.
Priscilla Sagg

I set it on the counter and called Priscilla over to take a look. She is an accomplished weaver, and our resident "go to girl" on rugs. Steve and I consider her our quality control inspector. Not much gets by her. Priscilla walked over and took a brief look at the rug. She did not even have to touch it. Giving the lady, who claimed to have woven it, and me a disdainful look while wrinkling her nose, she said, "You know what that thing is." I laughed out loud and asked the man, "Do you speak Spanish?" "No why?" he asked. "Because this rug has a distinctly Mexican accent!" The lady took-up the weaving, wrapped and bagged it and headed for the door. Through the grapevine we had heard a Native couple was out and about selling Mexican rugs as Navajo textiles. They had snookered several locals and must have been feeling overly confident when they strolled through our doors.

Not twenty minutes later this elderly Anglo gentleman walked in through the Kokopelli doors and wanted to know if I did any trading. "Only if I fall in love," I told him. "I understand," he said, "I too have to want something badly before I trade for it." The guy reached into his back pocket and pulled-out a sheath knife and began telling me how wonderful it was. I took the knife and looked it over carefully; informing him it looked remarkably like one I had just seen on the Smokey Mountain Knife Works web page. It was made in Pakistan and on special for $8.99. "Yup, you have a nice day," he said, placing the knife in his hind pocket and exiting the building.

There had also been a couple of slick talking salesmen who made it past Priscilla's answering service. The first attempted to pressure me into investing in oil and gas futures and the second assured me I had won a beautiful $18,000.00 bass boat, which he would deliver for one easy credit card payment of $499.95. I passed on the petroleum futures and told the guy with the boat I would gladly pay his delivery charge, plus an additional $500.00 cash money, when he pulled-up in my parking lot. He rejected my offer.

Steve and I won't begin to tell anyone we know everything about anything, but we have both been around the block several times. Between the near misses and the times we have been "worked," we could write a book; thus the reason behind my highly skeptical nature. Because I genuinely hate to be messed with, Laurie refuses to let me answer our home phone. "You are brutal on those people," she tells me.

Since I was setting at my computer and Spenser was near one, we both went online and looked on Google for All-Inclusive Vacations & Cruises. Within two minutes we both came to the same conclusion. This was, indeed a scam! Fortunately for Spens, he had used his debit card and had also blocked additional withdrawals before he did the deal. His call to the Zions Bank help desk cleared-up the misstep within a short period of time. Spens felt a bit foolish falling for such a ruse, but in the end it only cost him a bruised ego. "That girl was so nice, and so convincing," Spenser told me. "Yeah, I know what you mean son," I said in an effort to console him. "Your mother has that same effect on me, all she needs to do is smile and wink and I am done for."

With warm regards Barry Simpson and the team.

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