Border story: Miguel, postman and mensch


Miguel, postman and mensch, El Paso – July 2008


Another border encounter.

He’s a savior for me on this day. My post office-installed mail box is jammed and I have to get an important document for my car to the court or the judge is going hit me hard with another fine. Miguel follows me from the post office and changes the lock.

Love my pueblo. Where else would this happen?

He’s all dressed in black and has that look.

We start to talk.

I ask, “You ride a bike?”

“Used to,” he says, “…sold it.”


Nothing’s simple. People’s stories are always more than you think they’re gonna be. Everyone is always more complex. And simple. But not shallow. Seems, in la frontera, when people talk, they talk straight, and their talk is the talk of humanity. No trifles.

“Used to have a bike. Sold it. Wife started taking drugs. It got real bad. Needles. Had to take care of two kids. Lost it all. Eventually, lost her, too. Things were bad for a long time, after I got out of the National Guard, after Desert Storm, kept working at the post office. Thank God for the post office. Met another woman. A great woman. Got married again. Took a chance. God send. She had two kids. She’s a great Mom. She loves all our kids the same. Maybe I’ll get another bike someday. Important thing is we’re all OK for now. Why do you ask?”

Yeah, why do I ask?

Oh, so I’ll shut up for another day, maybe, and do what I need to do? Like everyone around here seems to do, and with pure dignity, like people like Miguel do. So I’ll be grateful? So I can pass the story along so you can be grateful, too?

I just ask.

Gracias para todo, Miguel, eres un hombre.

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