Hard to Take


Luci Tapahonso

this middle of the road business
is hard to take.

Last week in Gallup,
I was in line at Foodway
one checkstand open and
a long line of Navajos waiting
                        money and foodstamps in hand
                        waiting to buy food and pop.

My turn and I fumble
dropping the change
            Sorry, I say, sorry
            The cashier looks up smiling
            first smile in 20 minutes of Navajo customers
            Oh--that's okay. Are you Navajo?
            I swear, you don't have an accent at all!

            She's friendly too quick and I am uneasy.
            I say to the people behind me
            Ha' 'at'ii sha'ni?
            Why is she saying that to me?
We laugh a little under our breaths
and with that
            I am another Navajo
            she doesn't greet or thank.

My change is dropped in front of me
            and we are not surprised by that.

Merle Norman offers a free make-up job
            just the thing for a new look
            I say to myself and stop in
            for an appointment.

For 15 minutes, I wait for a saleslady
then I ask for an appointment outright.
            Just a moment, she says,
            someone will be with you shortly.

I wait some more while the salesladies
            talk about a great hairdresser,
            General Hospital and Liz Taylor.

So I just leave, shortly is too long,
seeing as I'm the only customer in the place.

I guess I can do without a new look
but this kind of business
            sure gets hard to take.

From Seasonal Woman by Luci Tapahonso, Tooth of Time Books.
© 1982 Luci Tapahonso

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