Columnist saddened by area code change

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom New Mexico

It’s a little hard saying goodbye to the 505.

On the surface, it’s just a three-digit area code for our Land of Entrapment, I mean Land of Enchantment. But the 505 is also a mentality.

This area code change is literally going to split our state in half, if politicians haven’t already done that. What next? People may start thinking our fair New Mexico is not even one of the 50 states.

When our new area code, 575, takes full effect a year from now, some people will probably be pushing “1” before it, thinking it’s an international call.

As usual, the northwest region of our state that I don’t need to mention — yeah, Albuquerque and Santa Fe — where most of our papa politicos are based, get to hang on to the 505. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be forced to convert to the new 575 area code.

I think Southeastern New Mexico should get to hang on to the 505 because we understand the 505 mentality much better. Like I stated before, the 505, an area code I have known all my life, is a frame of mind.

The former Portales rap group Divine Destiny captures the 505 mentality well in a song, “In the 505” which they recorded a few years ago. The singers, who’ve all now branched out on their own but under a single record label, Rychus Rythum, include Micah Short, Eddie (Uneek) Moreno and Taro Brown.

With a catchy beat, the main chorus of “In the 505” goes like this:

“In the 505, we struggle to survive.
Livin’ on the prayer everyday, that we’re alive.
But that’s OK though.
We’re chillin’, feelin’ good.
But we pray yo
That we’re gonna be up out the hood …”

Now I’m not saying that “In the 505” should become our official New Mexico state song or tourism slogan, but it does capture the 505 mentality in a straight-forward way with which we lifelong Nuevo Mejicanos can identify.

Other states, or should I say regions, have also had to deal with the same kind of heartbreak. Well, I guess headache. I mean, it’s just a number, right?

Take West Texas for instance. I’ve always associated West Texas with the 915 area code. I’ve lived in Odessa and I’ve lived in Abilene.

Before I left Abilene in 2002, West Texas was divided into not only one, but two new area codes — 432 and 325. Talk about confusion.

Even back then I was disappointed in this change, thanks to cell phones; not only was this going to be confusing as hell, but the 915 prefix conjured up a certain imagery in my head. When I see or hear 915, I think of oil wells, cattle and West Texas radios blaring the Lone Star State’s national anthem, “All My Exes Live in Texas.”

Back in the 505, the new 575 will be an inconvenience for awhile. For some businesses, it will be a major inconvenience and expense. Some area businesses have the 505 included as part of their business name.

As taxpayers, we will also have to share in the expense of our government and educational organizations having to change all of their letterhead and important stuff to 575.

Some of our less devoted Nuevo Mejicanos are already abandoning the 505, eager I guess, to be up out the hood, and are already using the 575. Like any large-scale change however, it has not been without its glitches. Some cell phones do not recognize the 575 (It’s just not as catchy as the 505), or vice-versa.

According to our state Web site, we are supposed to be able to cling to the 505 for a year, but some cell phone providers will not recognize it anymore while others, again, only recognize the 505.

While we still have another year to cling to the 505, we will eventually have to start adopting a 575 mentality. But just what will this new 575 mentality be comprised of?

Your guess is as good as mine. Right now though, I’m just struggling to survive … in the 505.