Don’t Wear Flip-Flops in Española Because You Might Stub Your Toe and Catch AIDS

Española, NM – If I have a major pet peeve it’s wearing socks.


Absolutely. Positively.

Instead I wear flip-flops. The cheap Old Navy brand that sell for $2 a pair. Because they’re cheap they don’t last long and I end up buying several pair over the course of a summer. According to my projections, however, I’m going to save a little money on flip-flops this summer for a couple of reasons.

First, I’ve been informed after three months of doing so that I’m not allowed to wear flip-flops to work. Apparently this is codified in the employee handbook or something. I didn’t wear them on my first day, but I did on my second and most days thereafter until last week. It’s not a huge deal, having to wear shoes all day. Indeed, there are worse conditions under which one could work.

The number two reason behind my anticipated savings on flip-flops is Española’s status as America’s heroin capital. This distinction, and the strange practices of heroin users, has forced me, for my own well-being, to forgo flip-flops during my evening walks as well, increasing further the number of hours I’m moving through life in shoes rather than flip-flops.

Walking the sidewalk-free streets of Española in anything but shoes is bad news waiting to happen. Aside from the roadsides shimmering with broken glass and empty miniature booze bottles – as iconic to the area as tumbleweed – heroin junkies here have the peculiar habit of tossing used syringes from moving vehicles.

I have no explanation for why they do this, but I wish they’d use a waste basket like everyone else. More than my dislike of socks is having to worry about my toes being stuck by contaminated syringes while on a leisurely stroll. Contracting AIDS or hepatitis would be a huge disappointment.

To be fair, I can’t say for sure it’s the junkies. The area also has a high concentration of diabetics so it could very well be that they’re to blame.

But to their credit, whomever it is, the needle-tossers almost always place the bright orange cap back over the needle before chucking it from the vehicle. This is a highly courteous gesture in my book. Not only do the caps make the syringes easier to spot, but they also rank among the best defenses against accidental toe pokings.

Shoes and socks, hate’em as I may, might not be so unpalatable after all.



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