This article is from the November 2003 The Mexico File newsletter.
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The Purple Flashlight

by Bruce McGovern 

There are a few products in this world which are noted for extreme reliability. The Rolls Royce auto; Coleman Lantern; L.L. Bean boots – and the mini‑mag lite. I had a nice black one for many years, and wore it in its belt holster, day and night. 

In April, it fell out of its holster, during the overnight bus trip from Reynosa to Mexico City. When we arrived at Norte, and the other passengers got off, I looked under the seats, but it was gone. AUGGGHHHH!!!! 

The next day, I took the combi (microbus) to Wal‑Mart, but in Mexico, they only sell cheap plastic lights. I bought one, because I need a light, especially in the country. Later, in the country, when I told of my tragic loss, Tio offered me the black one I gave him two years ago. I refused. What sort of sorry person would accept a man’s last mini‑mag, when he has no way to buy another? 

In May, when I returned to Texas, I drove to the Wal‑Mart in Edinburg. Every mini‑mag in the store was purple! I thought, “Well, who will notice the color of a small flashlight on a man's belt?” Answer: Everyone! I’d walk into a gas station on the Interstate, and a boy would holler, “Hey, that's a nice purple flashlight!” Sigh. 

When I got to Iowa, my son looked at me, went to his closet, and came back with his black mini‑mag. He took the purple one, and said, “I don't want my dad walking around with a purple mini‑mag.” 

The next day, I told him, “Here's your mini‑mag. Give mine back. I don't want my son to be carrying around a purple mini‑mag.” 

The following Saturday, I went to visit my brother on the farm. His son said, “Hey, that’s a neat flashlight! I didn’t know mini‑mag made purple flashlights. Purple is my favorite color. My new Dodge pickup is purple. My bedspread is purple. Even my pool table is purple. I love purple!” 

He ran downstairs, and came back with a blue mini‑mag, and said, “I'll trade you!” 

I thought he was joking. So, he took me downstairs, and showed me a purple bed and a purple pool table. Then we went outside to see his new Dodge Dakota. It was too dark to see the color, so we used the mini‑mags to verify the dark purple paint job. 

At this point, I finally realized he was serious about trading. So, I took his mini‑mag apart, made sure it was in good shape and had the spare bulb in the base. Then, I swapped in my batteries, so we kept our own. A perfect swap is when both parties are happy with the result. This was a perfect swap!