My office at the Art Center faces the highway in the center of town and it is from here that I see everything. From my window I have witnessed a lady crash her van at the Patagonia Market to escape a huge spider on her visor. I have watched in disbelief as a man riding down the highway on a ride-on mower, ear buds in his ears, oblivious to the world around him, cut off a semi truck as it was speeding through town, narrowly avoiding becoming a pancake. I have watched all sorts of weather, clouds of butterflies moving west, and hundreds of law enforcement officials speeding through town kicking up dust. But aside from the lady crashing her van on account of the spider, the most exciting thing to happen on the corner of 3rd and Hwy 82 is the giant hole.
A few months ago our neighbor Charlie announced that he was closing the gas station. This announcement, along with the lack of gas, has been the talk of the town. Who will buy it? Will he sell it? How the hell are we going to get propane? Small town people hate change. All exciting by small town standards, but nothing compares to the hole.
It all started at the end of last week. A group of guys with heavy equipment showed up next door. The next day a backhoe appeared, parked next to the gas pumps. I looked out the window to see a group of local men gathered around looking at the backhoe, kicking its tires, inspecting its bucket and chatting with the guys that came along with it.
It wasn’t too long after that that my neighbor came over to brief me on what was to happen. They were removing the tanks and that meant noise and a giant hole.
That’s when they all started coming. At first it was folks that just happened to walk by. They were awestruck by the machinery and, of course, the giant hole. I watched as people walked up as close as they could get to the fence to stare into the hole. And stare they did.
Then came the destination lookie loos. These folks, mostly men, came driving up, parking in front of our building and getting out so that they could take it all in. Some went as far as walking around the fence barricades to get a better look at the hole. From my window I watched a lot of hand waving and pointing down the hole. The men walked away looking satisfied.
My favorite folks were the ones that I saw walk up and almost get startled by the hole. These people abruptly left only to return with a camera to take photos. I can only imagine their future family looking at the family photo album perplexed and being told, “That’s a picture of the giant hole in Patagonia.”
I guess listening to jackhammering while you are trying to work desensitizes you to the importance of a hole. I had neglected to look in the hole myself. Maybe I was missing something? I went out and ran into some friends who coincidentally were also looking into the hole.
It was while talking to them that I got an idea. The next morning before anyone was around I took a piece of chalk and wrote on the sidewalk outside the barricade, “STARE INTO THE HOLE, $5 PAY NEXT DOOR.” I’ve already made $1.
I guess my lesson is to never underestimate the power of a hole. Your lesson is to be careful what you do outside my window. I just might write about it.