The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Monday, October 24, 2011

So Long, Maricopa...Good to See You in my Rear-View Mirror

One of the members of my current crew often likes to talk about "archaeology as adventure".  I usually roll my eyes when he begins going off on the subject, but as he's probably the happiest person on the crew, maybe I should take his attitude more seriously.  However, Maricopa is making that difficult.

Maricopa is the town in which we are currently staying.  It is south of Taft, and is, in fact, Taft's evil, twisted little brother.  The one who was locked in the attic, who subsists on whatever vermin it can catch with it's teeth and mis-shapen bare hands, and of whom the family doesn't like to speak.  Taft was filled with meth-heads.  Maricopa, on the other hand, is a town full of people who would only become meth-heads if they suddenly developed a sense of decency.

Think I'm exaggerating, do you?  Okay, quick, go to Maricopa's Wikipedia page.  Seriously, go there, here's a link.  Go down to the bottom of the page, to the portion mistakenly labelled "Public Safety."  Down there, you will see a description of the police department's problems with racism and good ol' corruption, which includes the following delightful quote:

In mid-2011, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jennie Pasquarella is quoted as saying, "Maricopa has been a shining example of impoundments gone wrong," and "They're essentially creating a racket to steal people's cars."
Yeah, that's Maricopa for ya'.

To protest the police corruption, a trailer with signs painted on it is frequently placed at the town's gas station parking lot.  The trailer has signs on both the right and left signs requesting that the people of Maricopa start taking their police department to task for its misbehavior. On the front and back, the signs plead for all reading them to "pray for our troops" as they "defend the right to freedom of speech" which means that the sign is simultaneously co-opting the language of both right and left wing politics,  which is kind of interesting.

The people are even more colorful.  On a daily basis I see men around town wearing t-shirts that should, in a sane world, prevent them from ever having the opportunity to talk to a woman.  There's the fellow who walks about town with his shirt featuring the phrase "don't stop till the panties drop" alongside an image of an anorexic-looking nude woman, and the Hustler logo below it.  He walked into the local sandwich place with someone who was either his wife or girlfriend, and who appeared to be so worn down by life that she didn't find it embarrassing to be seen holding this man's hand.  Or the fellow who walked into the hotel, wearing a "I love dirty whores" t-shirt, who then succeeded in chatting up one of the women who works here.  That these imbeciles would have any success with women would seem odd, until you see the local women. I have noticed a large number of local women have tattoos on their upper chests/lower necks which are occasionally abstract designs, but usually are words to the effect of "Property of Steve" or "Woman Belongs to Glenn" or some other such up-lifting message.  Then there's the woman who apparently declared her independence by getting a message that did not brand her as the property of a man, but rather as a "White Trash Bitch" - yes, this woman wanders about with these words tattooed to her lower neck.  And she's probably not on her meds.

The people of this town could make Cormac McCarthy decide that his opinion of humanity is too sunny and optimistic.

The sandwich shop that I saw Mr. Hustler in?  It's in the local gas station.  I have gone in there a couple of times for sandwiches, as it is one of only two places in town where food can be procured at hours known to the public, and the staff always seems annoyed that you are trying to give them money.  Now, I should note that the staff of the Sandwich shop, a Subways franchise, is separate from the staff of the gas station, who are always bizarrely chirpy and happy.  I am guessing that the two crews have different qualude/barbituate preferences.

Anyway, I'll be leaving tomorrow.  But this is just yet another one of those places that I have ended up thanks to archaeology.  On the off-chance that you ever find yourself thinking that my job is full of adventure, think of Maricopa.

No comments: