Over the top

by Steve & Barry Simpson
I was having a bad day! It was getting on toward evening, and because of extenuating circumstances, I had not gotten much of anything done at the trading post.
I think it was the first telephone call of the morning that got things started off wrong. I received a page from Danny saying there was an irate customer on the line seeking someone to take her frustration out on.
I hesitantly picked up the phone and said, “Hi this is Steve. How may I help you?”
I sometimes use Steve’s name when I need a scapegoat.   
The woman on the other end of the line wasted no time letting me know she was angry because of getting a first class runaround. She jumped right on me, saying in an aggravated tone of voice that her ring needed repair, and I should take care of the situation “post haste”.
“Okay”, I said, “everything we sell is 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed. Simply send me the ring, and we will repair it, right away.”
There was silence, then resignation. I probed, “You did buy the ring from us, didn’t you?”
The woman sighed and said, “Sadly no, I bought it directly from the artist.”
A few minutes later the entire story was related to me. It seems a couple years ago, this now unhappy collector bought an expensive coral ring from Hasteen Begay, whose name has been changed to protect the guilty, while visiting the Portal in Santa Fe.
Recently the coral had dislodged itself and escaped into the forests of Vermont. The woman had wisely charged the transaction on her credit card, so she called VISA to solicit their powerful aid.
VISA, with their supercomputers and know-it-all database, gave her our 800 number and said, “Go forth and seek satisfaction.”
So, I found myself attempting to arbitrate a situation that had absolutely nothing to do with us.
How the credit card company connected this poor woman’s complaint to Twin Rocks will surely be one of those forever unsolved mysteries.
Now that I knew the woman’s problem, I began searching for a solution. Realizing I knew this Mr. Begay, I rolled out the Rolodex and extracted his phone number and address and promptly gave him up.
The unhappy woman was now on the path to resolving her problem. She thanked me for my somewhat selfless service. I told her it was not a problem and that if she had further complaint’s to call 1-800-Steve’s your man.
Later in the day, I received a call from one of the turquoise miners we work with. I will not mention his name for fear of retribution, but this guy is, as dear old dad often says, “Rough as a cob!”
For years I took this saying for granted, not really understanding its significance. One day I decided to discover the true meaning of the phrase and asked my father exactly what it meant and where the saying originated.
He patiently explained the term sprang to life in the days of outdoor facilities. Paper products were scarce, not often afforded and certainly never wasted. Every little thing was used and used again if an additional, beneficial purpose could be uncovered.
It seems a feast of roasted corn was not only a treat for the palate, but afterwards the dried cob provided a cleansing tool for the derriere. Thus the saying, “rough as a cob!”
I had to ask.
As I spoke with my associate, I felt I was being formally abused, much like the sensation the cob might have provided one’s backside.
After having my personal safety and life threatened several times, we came to somewhat agreeable terms on the purchase of his highly desirable blue and green gemstones.
Just before he hung up, Mr. Turquoise laughed at my sensitive nature and told me that just because he threatened to break my knees and stuff me in a mine shaft, it didn’t mean we weren’t friends; it was simply his way of showing affection. Ya gotta love the guy!
So it went the rest of the day, until it came to a point where I was feeling chaffed. I felt as if I needed to get out of the shop and reconnect with the natural world. I hoped Mother Earth would treat me with more respect, so I found my coat and headed for the door.
Lately, I have been noticing the beauty of the cap-rock on the cliff tops above town. As I drive home, the play of evening light and shadow on the roiled and domed surfaces has captured my imagination and is drawing me in.
Leaving work an hour early would give me enough time to view a sunset “on the rocks!”
I told Steve where I was going and that if a Mrs. Norton from New England called, to act like they were old friends. I was out the door before he could ask any further questions, jumped into the Toyota and headed north.
I drove up Cow Canyon, took a hard right on the belt loop and another right onto the first dirt road that ran parallel to the canyon. Five minutes from the front door of the trading post put me within a short walk of my goal.
Stepping out of the truck, I was struck by a brisk and bitter breeze, my ears immediately frosted over and my eyes teared up. It seemed nature was not going to allow me a reprieve from a less than perfect day.
I had only a light coat and no hat, but I was determined to get to the slick rock and see the sunset no matter what. Trudging across the desert caused my toes to become numb, but I soon arrived at the point where the desert met the rock.
Looking up through crying eyes, I recognized the bold, bubbly formation before me. I reached down and felt the welcoming sandpaper texture of the rock and felt welcome.
Scrambling up the slick rock slope, I searched for a small protected alcove that would provide shelter from the north wind and allow me to enjoy the end of day while being warmed by the dissipating rays of light.
Topping the stone monolith and moving down the other side, I found just the right impression. It was actually quite cozy. The sun was resting right on the horizon, waiting for me to settle in and enjoy the show.
I have to say that I have witnessed much more grand and spectacular sunsets, but never one so calming. The sound of complete silence surrounded me, as did the coarse yet unobtrusive stone.
It seemed my self-perceived troubles dissipated into the rock as the sun descended behind the horizon. It felt good to join with nature and ignore the complications of my temporal situation.
As all traces of the sun and my bad humor withdrew and twilight overtook me, I raised up and breathed deeply. Turning toward the west I was greeted by a nearly full rising moon.
I said a word of gratitude for being able to live in such a strikingly beautiful and unique area and for the ability to access it so, so quickly.
Walking back across the short strip of blow-sand and stunted vegetation, under the icy white moon and enveloping purple twilight made my world feel a bit enchanted. I thought of my loving wife waiting at home and felt warm and comfortable in spite of the nip in the air and frostbite on my nose and ears.
I was hoping Laurie would forgive me for being late for dinner, but was certain I would be easier to get along with when I arrived. I also thought I might have to send Steve out tomorrow night to enjoy a similar experience.
When he finds out I have sacrificed him in the effort to save my own sanity, he may be aggravated. No worries, we all know that he is no saint either.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday