There’s still so much of the United States I haven’t seen, but I’m grateful for the states I’ve visited. One of my favorite places has to be Santa Fe, New Mexico. On my first visit there I didn’t spend one minute doing any typical touristy things. In fact, I spent nearly my entire time there in the Plaza.
The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark and is a beautiful blend of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures. There are several hotels, art galleries, and fine restaurants—but my favorite feature by far was the people. I couldn’t get enough of them, and I found myself wandering around hoping to talk to every person I saw. Instead of dining in one of the revered restaurants, I opted for a street vendor selling burritos, and rather than touring one of the amazing art galleries, I sat and listened to the many buskers positioned around the square. If you ever go, be sure to walk to the north side of the plaza to the Palace of the Governors. It’s an adobe structure that was built in 1610 and was once the seat of government for New Mexico. There you will find a plethora of amazing jewelry crafted by the hands of indigenous people. The work is astounding and worthy of all the high praise I had heard about it.
My second day there I had a freelance project to work on, and rather than spend the day in my Airbnb, I decided to work on a park bench in the center of the Plaza. I got there early, grabbed coffee (naturally) at a local shop, and parked myself on a bench near the street. I became absorbed in my work as the Plaza slowly came to life. By mid morning, there were people flowing in and out of the many shops, and buskers were beginning to arrive and play their music. Pretty much heaven on Earth if you ask me.
Not all buskers play music. Some entertain in other ways, like performing a bit of theatre, singing, or dressing up in costumes. And this is how I met Scooby-Doo.
I’ve been a fan of Scooby-Doo since, well—let’s just say a long time. So imagine my excitement when I lifted my eyes from the screen on my lap and saw Scooby himself strolling by in front of me!
“Scooby? Is that you?” I heard myself say.
Scooby turned his head as a huge smile spread across his face. I was grinning like a kid lost in the toy department at the Disney store.
Scooby walked over to where I was and plopped down beside me. “Hey! What’s up man?”
“You know, just writing a little.” I answered.
This will probably come as no surprise, especially if you know anything about my friend Scooby, but he was happy and full of life. We instantly connected and was firing questions back and forth at each other.
Where are you from?
Why are you here?
Where are you going next?
All the usual questions, but with none of the usual answers. Funny how names seldom come up in these conversations, isn’t it?
Scoob let me know that he was on his way to Burning Man, when the transmission went out in his car. Like me, Scooby was a hustler and he was there doing his thing on the street to raise money so he could continue his journey. Mind you, he wasn’t so much worried about his car as he was about getting all the way to Burning Man.
If you’re not familiar, Burning Man is a yearly event held in August in the Nevada desert, where thousands of people gather to erect a temporary city devoted to art, community, and radical self-expression. You know, the kind of place where Scooby would feel right at home.
We were talking and laughing when Scoob paused and asked me, “What are your favorite colors?”
His question caught me off guard, but I quickly responded with “Black and blue. But I don’t know man, I like lots of colors!”
He quickly stood to his feet, and I noticed he was wearing a kind of belt to which was attached a spool of wire, another of twine, and a selection of tools. He whipped out a penny, grabbed some markers, and went to work coloring the coin. Next, he unspooled some of the wire and grabbed a set of cutters. He skillfully wrapped the wire around the coin, stowed his pliers and reached for some twine. He then tied the twine to the wire and proudly showed me that he had just created a necklace. Took him less than five minutes.
Remembering he was a fellow hustler working on the street, I asked him, “Is that for me?”
He nodded and flashed that million dollar smile.
“How many Scooby snacks is this going to cost me?” I asked while doing my best to match his grin.
“Don’t worry about it man. You’re cool so you don’t have to give me anything.”
I laughed. “No way man! We’re both out here trying to make it happen. How much do people typically give you? And remember, I’m working here too.”
“About three or four bucks, usually.”
I grabbed my wallet and handed him eight dollars. I’d have given him ten, but eight was all the cash I had on me. I handed it to him, and asked if I could take a picture with him before he took off.
He happily agreed. Before he left, I stood up, shook his hand and gave him a one-armed bro hug. “Scooby, you made my day.”
“You made mine too man, keep writing!” And off he went.
I watched as he walked away, smiling and speaking to every person he met. I couldn’t help but marvel at his demeanor. He was on his way across the country and making his way to Nevada. His car broke down, but instead of stressing out about it, he kind of shrugged it off and remained focused on his end game, which was getting to Burning Man. I’ve often wondered if he made it, and I really hope he did.
I never got his name, nor he mine, and it wasn’t even important. I meet Scooby-Doo on the streets of Santa Fe, and he taught me a lot about life. Just like he’d been doing for decades.