Work of Art: That would be nice ...

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By Art Trujillo

With 2010 coming up, we wonder what changes we can expect. And if there are changes, which ones and to what extent?

People don’t feel too concerned over the nice, even round number that 2010 will represent, nothing like when nature’s odometer turned from 1999 to 2000, or Year Two Thousand.

Ten years ago my wife and I were attending a Y2K party at the home of Prentiss and Nancy Childs, when we got a phone call requesting we go to my mother’s house on Railroad Avenue. My two older sisters, Dolores and Dorothy, had arrived from California to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day with Mom, but a few ticks before the year 2000, Mom insisted she needed “a man around the house.”

We left the party for Mom’s house, where she revealed the fear that everything electrical would suddenly melt down. But the main issue for her was whether she should make “cafecito” before midnight, just to have it handy.

Well, we siblings urged her to go ahead and make it, even though the hot-before-midnight brew would soon become iced coffee if all the electricity went south.

When the new decade arrived, with no power outage, Mom felt better.

Tonight, 10 years later, I have complete faith in the ability of the country to continue to run, in spite of the scare many of us had when we heard that computers, invented 25 years earlier, weren’t set up to adjust to the year 2000, or any date with a “2” in front of it. Fears were that giant power plants would fail.

Well, Mom passed away less than three years into Y2K, and like so many of her generation, she was loath to take on new technology. A microwave frightened her. Her electric range was about as high-tech as she allowed her kitchen to become. Twice a year she’d try to tip me a twenty to reset her car clock for the time change, and for another ten — and this was her offer, which I refused — would I mind setting the two electric and battery clocks in her house?

Today, in my reverie, I mention Mom and Dad’s scoffing at what we “youngsters” considered modern. Anything even remotely described as “electronic” they shunned, Mom because she didn’t think she could learn how to operate it, and Dad because there was no place to insert a screwdriver or a pair of pliers.

And both parents ceaselessly lamented the fact that “They don’t make cars like they used to.” To that I can only say, “Thank Heavens!”

• • •

As a child, did anyone ever describe you as “nice”? Like so many other words, this is one whose meaning has changed over the eons. It comes from Middle English and used to mean, among other things, “foolish,” “wanton,” “silly,” “dissolute,” “coy,” “reticent,” “ignorant” and “fastidious.”

Now, it simply means nice. Therefore, here are a few things to consider for the new year that would be “nice” (in the contemporary sense):

• It would be nice if grown, mature people who are in charge of spending the public’s money would realize that they can’t be buying beef jerky and expensive jackets for politicians as a way of currying favor. The same goes for the recipients: Don’t accept these bribes. It’s not a private fund where gift-giving might be acceptable, but a local, state and federal income stream that is being squandered.

• It would be nice if schools could pluck a few billion dollars from the money tree in the back yard to pay teachers decent wages and hire the best and the brightest.

• It would be nice if the military needed to conduct Saturday morning bake sales to finance sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight the never-ending war.

 • It would be nice if those who expect to imbibe around the holidays and other occasions would indeed get a free ride to the bar and back. Riding both ways with a sober driver might just save lives. Perhaps the liquor industry could arrange a van to pick up and deliver patrons ...

• It would be nice if parents wouldn’t play the “stigma” card when their kids get only a cheese sandwich for lunch in Albuquerque schools, because the parents haven’t paid for the kids’ lunches. Stigma/schmigma.

• It would be nice if auditors in the tiny Jemez school district could  more quickly discover the funneling of $3.4 million into the private account of a business manager . That amount is something most of us will never see in our lifetime. Imagine how much food you can buy with $3.4 million.

• It would be nice if people wouldn’t treat the lottery as some kind of investment that in time will  fix everyone’s financial woes, with just one lucky pick.

• And it would really be nice if spokesmen for the governor would stop using that tired old mantra in and attempt to justify why Richardson gave a generous campaign donor an equally generous salary and a cushy job, or why there are a half thousand “exempt” state employees with salaries averaging $80,000.

Usually one of the apologists for the governor says, “The appointment has nothing to do with the fact that he donated to Richardson’s campaign. We do things only for the benefit of the state.”

• • •

See you next year. Wish me luck on my diurnal strife to lose poundage.

Be kind, do good works and remember to over-tip your breakfast wait-person.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.