Greetings from Maryland! And by Maryland, I do mean the state. Not that there was any confusion; everyone knows MD is a state. If only everyone was as clear as to New Mexico’s status.
My recent move to the Mid-Atlantic has reminded me how unfamiliar many people are with the Zia state. Most people, upon learning I’ve made the arduous journey from the southwestern portion of the country, seem impressed by my obviously courageous trek. The looks on their faces suggest I should submit an application to the Explorers Club.
It gets worse.
Apparently, New Mexico’s statehood is this country’s best kept secret. Many New Mexicans have encountered people who have confused New Mexico with Mexico. Irritating, but I’ve done my best to be understanding and just assume they didn’t hear the “new”. But when someone reads “New Mexico”—like on my driver’s license—and only catches the “Mexico”, I’m slightly less empathetic.
This is how it went down: I stopped by my local liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. The cashier carded me. Being 30, I was both thrilled and annoyed. I handed over my license, and he immediately exclaimed, “Wow! Mexico! What’s the weather like down there? Is it just hot all the time?”
In an attempt to correct his mistake I said, “Not really. The southern part of the state can be warmer, but the northern half of the state does see some snow.”
He didn’t pick up on my subtle correction, going on to say, “That’s one country I’ve always wanted to visit, just never had the chance.”
I encouraged him to visit and told him he was sure to love it. I stopped short of reminding him to renew his passport. I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t question all the English on my Mexican driver’s license, not to mention the flagrant use of standard measurements.
Perhaps it’s time for New Mexico to actively make its statehood known. Sure, NM’s governor ran for president, and the first atomic bomb was tested here, but people just aren’t making the connection.
Here are some suggestions to set things straight once and for all:
Slap a new slogan on license plates. Something like “The state, not the country”.
Change the state question from “Red or Green?” to “Did you know we were a state?”
A New Mexico Tourism Department ad campaign with the slogan “New Mexico. You don’t even need a passport.”
“Welcome to New Mexico” signs should add “Don’t worry, you’re still in the USA.”
Change the state motto, “Crescit eundo”, to “For the love of all that’s holy, we’ve been a state since 1912.”
A new nickname, something along the lines of “Land of Not Mexico.”