I had some interesting employment while in college. Three that come to mind are jobs with:
- A lawyer who’s now one of the most powerful in the city of Tucson
- A landscaping company that now commands 25% of the market in Tucson
- A soft-drink bottling company with current revenues North of $120M
At the Kalil Bottling Company, my pal Mark Gonnella and I loaded the big distribution trucks with RC Cola, Canada Dry and Crush products, at first cases by hand, then with a forklift once we earned that spot. We’d ride our bicycles the 3 plus miles for our 5:00 to 10:00 pm shift, usually after hanging out at a nearby pizza joint playing Pac-Man. Yeah it was all the rage then.
There were some interesting characters besides us working there. For many, it was their job, the primary means of putting food on their tables. For me, it was rent and fun money, and I was just passing through. One night I stopped the forklift when the break whistle sounded and grabbed a cold soda. I was chatting with a guy who was probably my age then. We shot the breeze about the Celtics-Lakers who were playing in the NBA Finals, but then the conversation turned serious. The man asked me what my future plans were. I don’t even recall my response, but I’ll never forget what he said next. He looked at me with a face older than his years, one reddened and aged by too much sun and too much alcohol. “Well,” he said, “there’s only one person in this world who can stop you from doing anything you want with your life.” I waited for the answer that back then wasn’t obvious to me. “You.” The whistle to get back to work sounded, but I was stunned at the gravity of the revelation. It was a keeper, and a huge part of my education that didn’t happen in a classroom.