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July 27, 2001

July 27, 2001

QUESTION: I am a quadriplegic who gets around in an electric wheelchair. I live behind Mervyn's. To get to Vons I have to cross the railroad track on North Imperial Avenue.

The track is so rough the wheels on my chair gets stuck in the ruts along the rail. I would like the railroad to smooth the tracks and fill in the ruts. Didn't you have a number to call? — Stuck, El Centro

We do have a number (909) 879-6264 to complain about rough rail crossings. You'll probably talk to Rick Gonzales. We called Thursday and left a message on his voice mail. We'll try again today. It wouldn't hurt if you called also.

WASTED EFFORT — The water stations in the desert are a waste of time and effort. Almost every day authorities find the dehydrated bodies of illegal entrants in the desert.

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I once helped some illegals who had been in the desert for about eight hours. After I gave them cold water, I noticed a water station a few yards from where they stood.

I asked them why they didn't drink the water. They said they tried but it was hot and they had to spit it out. Even the illegals are not happy with the water stations. — E-mailer, Cyberspace

We don't doubt it. If we were hiking across the desert in July, we wouldn't be happy with anything less than an air-conditioned car.

At least the volunteers are doing something to save lives. Warm water will rehydrate the body and perhaps keep you alive until you can get to a cooler place.

QUESTION: Cingular Wireless overcharged me $850 for my cellular phone. When I called, the company agreed I had been overcharged and blamed a computer glitch. It promised to take care of it.

That was three months ago but the overcharge keeps showing up on my bill. I have been trying to straighten this out with no luck. I have a telephone number but they won't let me speak to a manager or anybody in authority. Help! — Can't Talk, El Centro

We called the number you gave us and managed to talk to Katherine Scott, who said she was the manager. The trouble was she didn't want to talk to us. She said that would violate your "confidentiality."

She said she WOULD talk to you, so we may have done you some good. She gave us a number (866) 246-7954 she says will ring the phone at her desk. Let us know how this turns out.

MOUTH WATERS — Have you ever had nopales? When I was a kid we lived on a ranch with nopales growing in the yard. Thinking about nopales makes my mouth water. My grandmother used to chop nopales and put them on top of an omelet before she folded it.

Sometimes I buy a jar of nopales at the grocery store. They taste good but not as good as they did when my grandmother made them. — Yum Yum, El Centro

Nothing tastes as good as it did when grandma made it, but we have eaten nopales, the leaves from a prickly pear cactus. When we arrived in Imperial County 50 years ago, every little house had a cactus patch in the back yard.

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