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Monday, January 9, 2017

Forever Impression

I’ve been driving a truck since I was 16 years old and I always will. I guess it just fits my personality because owning a truck enables me to do so much more than I can with a car… and it was early on in my life that I learned that doing more... truly can make a difference.

In 1969 my parents had a small avocado grove in Fallbrook, California and I helped them take care of it even though I was only 14 years old. Our neighbor to the north had a much larger avocado grove that covered 28 acres and he hired migrant workers from Mexico to help him with irrigation, picking and pruning every year. The same four men showed up every season and just about every penny they earned they sent back to their families in Mexico. One man in particular, I will never forget. His name was Paco.

Paco spoke a little bit of English, and I spoke a little bit of Spanish, and somehow we connected. He and his crew would work 10 hour days, 7 days a week, for months at a time and if our family had any food left over, I would take it to share with them. They would be so grateful and Paco always had the biggest smile of all! When I told him my dream was to buy a truck someday, he offered to let me work with him. His rancher boss agreed and for 6 days a week all summer, 10 hours a day, I worked alongside Paco pruning massive avocado trees. I got tired and sometimes went home early, but not Paco, he had a family to feed. Even though I was just a teen-ager I picked up on the “work ethic” that Paco and his crew embodied. They worked hard every day, rain or shine, and never complained. I remember the rancher telling me they were only supposed to work 5 days a week, but their families were poor, so they worked extra hard to earn as much as possible.

One day, working way up high in a tree, I sliced a deep gash into my leg with a tree-saw. I cried out for help and Paco came running. He climbed up the tree, helped me down, and wrapped my leg with his bandana. He then carried me a half mile back to my house so my Mom could take me to the doctor. Around 6pm that evening I called the Rancher to tell him what happened, but he already knew. In fact, he said Paco was still working past dark to make up for the time he missed carrying me home. That left a huge impression on me that has motivated me many times in my life, to always work hard and always go the extra mile.

With the money I earned that summer I wasn’t able to afford a truck but I did buy a motorcycle, which I used to get back and forth to school every day. I was proud of earning the money myself and grateful for the life lessons my friend Paco taught me. However, the very next year, only three men came to work at our neighbor’s ranch. Paco was not with them. When I asked what happened to Paco, they said he was bitten by a rattle snake crossing the border and died a few days later. The news of Paco’s death hit me hard, really hard, which I guess was just another lesson to be learned. Life does not last forever, but certain people can leave a “forever impression” on us. 
Hard work spotlights the character of people. Some turn up their sleeves, 
some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.
~ Sam Ewing

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