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Filtering by Category: A Pipefitter's Dream

A PIPE(FITTER'S) DREAM: "YOU'RE THE ONE!"

Jennifer Mejia

 
be the one quote BLG
one person at a time. 
Be the one..jpg
 

Sometimes I write or post something on Instagram and I don’t know what kind of response I will get. Yesterday I donated a lot of toys to a wonderful organization called West Side Campaign Against Hunger, and I was extremely moved, for many reasons, by the reaction when I delivered the toys. I shared my experience in my Instagram Stories. My beautiful friend Tatiana called me last night to thank me for sharing the story, inspiring her and one of her stepsons, and also shared her own story of giving. Tatiana was actually the one who inspired me to clean out the clutter as I saw her going through her own closet. She gave boat loads of beautiful clothing to a selfless and deserving mom of four. One of her children had special needs for many years, and this mom used to bake cookies and sell them to earn enough money to travel with her son to get the help he needed. Tatiana, how thoughtful of you and your beautiful heart—you are also an inspiration.

Yesterday, Tatiana’s stepson also watched my Instagram Stories and said, “That’s so sweet! Tatiana, we have a lot of toys we don’t need in the basement. Do you think we could pack them up and take them to kids who need them?” First of all, what a precious boy he is for that to be his immediate and natural response. Secondly, I am so happy that sharing my story inspired others. Several people sent me messages after watching the stories, so thank you for doing that. Sometimes I feel like I’m an emotional basket case when situations like this move me, so I appreciate others making me feel normal.

I began thinking of my friend, Rick, who I refer to on this blog as “The Pipefitter.” You can read my initial post on him here. That may help the following make more sense, but it’s not absolutely necessary. (But I think you’ll actually like reading about him.) In any case, my story of giving and inspiring others reminded me of this post that I wrote when I had very few followers. So I thought it was worth sharing again. Because the world should have more of this, and I think this is a wonderful story that we can all use to make a difference today. Here is my original post…

It's no secret to anyone who knows Rick that he's always been a generous and giving person. Charity is probably the greatest passion that he and his wife, Lori, share. While they have four nieces and nephews, they do not have children of their own. Many couples would have taken that opportunity to live a lavish lifestyle with their disposable income, but not Rick and Lori. They give. And then give some more. And then some more. That's just who they are.

To name a few examples...For years, Rick and Lori have donated to Toys for Tots at Christmastime. And not just a few board games. I'm talking SUV-loads with bikes, Lego sets, dolls, trucks...everything from A to Z on a child's wish list. At present, they spend two days per week volunteering at a local organization called for Food for Others. One day is busy picking up food from grocery stores with a surplus that would otherwise go to waste. The second day is spent packing food at a Food for Others facility and loading it into cars for those in need, whether they are families in an emergency crisis or families who qualify on an ongoing basis.  (On weekends, this organization also delivers food to high schools so that children can take the food home to their families at the start of the week.)  When they aren't helping their neighbors in need, Rick and Lori are caring for man's best friend. They volunteer for an organization called Dog World Rescue, whose mission is to rescue dogs, nurse them back to health when needed, and find foster and permanent homes. Rick and Lori transport dogs in their own vehicle, which sometimes means a multiple hour trip to save a furry friend. Rick also volunteers once a week as a dealer to veterans playing poker at a local establishment.

When Rick isn't volunteering, he makes it his personal mission to improve the lives of others. One might watch Rick as he makes his way from Baskin-Robbins to Trader Joe's to a casino where he likes to play poker, and label him an excessive tipper. You see, Rick doesn't reserve tipping for fine dining and Starbucks. He believes good service should be rewarded no matter where you are. Rick regularly shops at a local Giant Food. He's made a habit of tipping the cashiers for efficient and friendly service. A few months ago, a young couple who was buying provisions for a football game that afternoon, watched as Rick handed a few bucks to the cashier. The young woman said to her boyfriend, "Did you see what he did? We need to give her a tip, too." Fast forward a few weeks when Rick tipped another cashier at the same store. The cashier replied, "You're the one!" Rick was confused. "The one what?" he asked. "What have I done now?" he thought. The cashier said, "People have been tipping us more and more lately. We were all talking about the guy who started it. You're the one!"

For me, the most important part of this story isn't the money itself. It's about setting an example that makes others see how a few bucks, or anything that's almost insignificant to many, can make a difference. Going back to the tip, imagine if just five people in that cashier's eight-hour shift gave her $2. That's $10 per day, $50 per week, and $200 per month. That's a car payment. That's a great Christmas versus a disappointing Christmas to her child. That changes her life. 

Forget the money. Imagine it's a kind word to a stranger, and that kind word warms a heart that has felt empty and alone for weeks. Or holding a door for an elderly person who goes home to an empty apartment every day, and that gesture makes the world feel like a less lonely place, if only for a moment. You don't have to be anyone extraordinary to make a difference in the lives of others.  

A few weeks ago, Rick pulled up to a stoplight where a homeless man was discreetly begging for money. Rick rolled down his window and handed the guy a $5 bill and said, "I'm headed to poker. If I lose, I'm gonna want that back!" The homeless man paused, looked up at Rick, initially confused, but then saw Rick's smile and said while chuckling, "Thank you, sir! Not just for the money, but for making me smile. I haven't done that in quite some time." 

As humans with good hearts, we all want to make a difference. But with so much wrong in the world, so much hatred, so much negativity, so much poverty, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and think, "I can't make a difference. Why even try?" But you can. It doesn't take money. Sometimes it doesn't even take much time. A smile is free. Holding a door takes a few seconds. The truth is that the world changes one person at a time. Think with your heart. Be the one.

A PIPE(FITTER'S) DREAM: "YOU'RE THE ONE!"

Jennifer Mejia

My kids are both home from school today for a snow day. So I thought about posting a delicious and indulgent brownie recipe to help ease the pain of kids climbing the walls and trashing the house while being cooped up inside all day. But that can wait until tomorrow. Yesterday's post was my first in the series, "A Pipe(fitter's) Dream," but I wasn't sure it gave you a good enough sense of "The Pipefitter." So I pushed the brownies aside and opted for the post below. I promise I'll post the brownie recipe tomorrow or Friday. That will leave more for you to eat once your kids are back in school. 

be the one quote BLG
one person at a time. 
Be the one..jpg

It's no secret to anyone who knows Rick that he's always been a generous and giving person. Charity is probably the greatest passion that he and his wife, Lori, share. While they have four nieces and nephews, they do not have children of their own. Many couples would have taken that opportunity to live a lavish lifestyle with their disposable income, but not Rick and Lori. They give. And then give some more. And then some more. That's just who they are.

To name a few examples...For years, Rick and Lori have donated to Toys for Tots at Christmastime. And not just a few board games. I'm talking SUV-loads with bikes, Lego sets, dolls, trucks...everything from A to Z on a child's wish list. At present, they spend two days per week volunteering at a local organization called for Food for Others. One day is busy picking up food from grocery stores with a surplus that would otherwise go to waste. The second day is spent packing food at a Food for Others facility and loading it into cars for those in need, whether they are families in an emergency crisis or families who qualify on an ongoing basis.  (On weekends, this organization also delivers food to high schools so that children can take the food home to their families at the start of the week.)  When they aren't helping their neighbors in need, Rick and Lori are caring for man's best friend. They volunteer for an organization called Dog World Rescue, whose mission is to rescue dogs, nurse them back to health when needed, and find foster and permanent homes. Rick and Lori transport dogs in their own vehicle, which sometimes means a multiple hour trip to save a furry friend. Rick also volunteers once a week as a dealer to veterans playing poker at a local establishment.

When Rick isn't volunteering, he makes it his personal mission to improve the lives of others. One might watch Rick as he makes his way from Baskin-Robbins to Trader Joe's to a casino where he likes to play poker, and label him an excessive tipper. You see, Rick doesn't reserve tipping for fine dining and Starbucks. He believes good service should be rewarded no matter where you are. Rick regularly shops at a local Giant Food. He's made a habit of tipping the cashiers for efficient and friendly service. A few months ago, a young couple who was buying provisions for a football game that afternoon, watched as Rick handed a few bucks to the cashier. The young woman said to her boyfriend, "Did you see what he did? We need to give her a tip, too." Fast forward a few weeks when Rick tipped another cashier at the same store. The cashier replied, "You're the one!" Rick was confused. "The one what?" he asked. "What have I done now?" he thought. The cashier said, "People have been tipping us more and more lately. We were all talking about the guy who started it. You're the one!"

For me, the most important part of this story isn't the money itself. It's about setting an example that makes others see how a few bucks, or anything that's almost insignificant to many, can make a difference. Going back to the tip, imagine if just five people in that cashier's eight-hour shift gave her $2. That's $10 per day, $50 per week, and $200 per month. That's a car payment. That's a great Christmas versus a disappointing Christmas to her child. That changes her life. 

Forget the money. Imagine it's a kind word to a stranger, and that kind word warms a heart that has felt empty and alone for weeks. Or holding a door for an elderly person who goes home to an empty apartment every day, and that gesture makes the world feel like a less lonely place, if only for a moment. You don't have to be anyone extraordinary to make a difference in the lives of others.  

A few weeks ago, Rick pulled up to a stoplight where a homeless man was discreetly begging for money. Rick rolled down his window and handed the guy a $5 bill and said, "I'm headed to poker. If I lose, I'm gonna want that back!" The homeless man paused, looked up at Rick, initially confused, but then saw Rick's smile and said while chuckling, "Thank you, sir! Not just for the money, but for making me smile. I haven't done that in quite some time." 

As humans with good hearts, we all want to make a difference. But with so much wrong in the world, so much hatred, so much negativity, so much poverty, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and think, "I can't make a difference. Why even try?" But you can. It doesn't take money. Sometimes it doesn't even take much time. A smile is free. Holding a door takes a few seconds. The truth is that the world changes one person at a time. Think with your heart. Be the one.

A PIPE(FITTER'S) DREAM

Jennifer Mejia

Now that I'm grown, whenever I recall the story of the genie in a bottle granting someone three wishes, I wonder why three are even necessary. If I were the one rubbing the bottle, I'd simply wish for a happy life. After all, wouldn't that in effect mean that hundreds of my wishes would come true? Wouldn't the genie know everything I need to be supremely happy and everything would be perfect in a poof? The sad truth is that for many people, happiness is a destination that they'll get to if and when something happens or whenever they acquire the perpetual "one more thing." As humans, many of us are always wanting. It's difficult to be truly content with what we have. So true and complete happiness becomes somewhat of a pipe dream, an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme. But not for one person in my life. Welcome to the first post in my series, "A Pipe(fitter's) Dream," stories of a man who is genuinely happy and has been truly blessed, and I believe the latter is due to his effort to be the former. His friendship, advice, and the example of his life have all made a difference in my existence, my journey toward happiness, and my desire to make the world a better place. I hope sharing these stories will do the same for you. 

Rick reading.jpg

The Pipefitter

At the ripe young age of 47, a guy named Rick Farro abruptly quit his job as Vice President for a major commercial construction company in Washington, DC, a job that provided him with financial security, status, and respect within his industry. Sort of an unconscionable decision after beginning his career nearly 30 years earlier as a mere pipefitter. And almost on a whim (but with a tad bit more thought), he founded and ran what would become one of the most successful construction companies in the Washington, DC area. In 1993, I was 19 and in need of a job to support my clothing and shoe addiction. Rick needed an office assistant because his wife, with a full time job of her own, could no longer be his administrative assistant. My sister knew Rick from her job as a commercial property manager and somehow knew we'd work well together. Lucky for me, he felt the same way, and I was hired.  I worked for Rick for only three short years, but thankfully, our friendship survived after my college graduation and has endured time and distance. 

When I told Rick about my plans to write this series on my blog, his response was, "Are you sure you want to write about me? I'm just some old construction guy. My life isn't that interesting." But it is. Because the world changes one person at a time, and Rick changes lives every day because of his positive attitude and approach to even the most challenging and difficult situations. And if I had to choose one quality to give every person in this world--one quality that if everyone possessed, the world would be a better place--it would be integrity. And so the first "lesson" is here.

integrity quote.jpg

I mentioned earlier that at 47 years old, Rick abruptly quit a job that 18-year-old Pipefitter Rick would have thought of as a dream. Rick was hired as Vice President of "Empire Construction" (name changed to protect the innocent) after turning down the owner's offer to be President. Fast forward a bit, and the owner hired a guy named "Jim" (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) as President. Rick worked for Jim for a while, but Jim did business just a little bit differently. He padded the bids of subcontractors that he hired and overcharged tenants, taking a piece of the surplus. When Rick hired subcontractors, Jim would conveniently find an excuse to withhold full payment. When Jim was the cause for a job gone wrong, he’d find a scapegoat and plan to fire them instead. 

The last job that Rick supervised for Empire Construction was not going well due to Jim's unethical behavior. And in true form, Jim blamed a guy named Tom and planned to fire Tom. On Rick's 47th birthday, a Monday, he went to Jim and said, "Don't lay off Tom, I'm quitting." Rick knew that somehow he would become the scapegoat, and for Rick, that was okay. In his heart, he knew the truth. And part of that truth was that he could no longer work for someone without an ounce of integrity or a shred of decency. Without any plans for a new job, he resigned. 

Because of what I shared earlier, you know this story has a happy ending. But Rick didn't know that at the time. In fact, the following Monday, he interviewed with a company called Keystone, and he recalls that day as the "single most depressing day of [his] life." Although his future was uncertain when he made the thoughtful decision to leave, integrity--his own and that which Jim lacked--is what mattered most. And it is that story and moral that I've recalled many times when faced with difficult situations where the path of least resistance and keeping my head down would have been easier, even if it was against my personal values and beliefs.

For many of us, it's not financially feasible to just quit a job without having a new one. And even if we could, it's not always the wisest thing to do. But there are many situations that test our integrity yet don't affect our financial security. In the end, it's important to recognize when someone or something is in conflict with our own value system. If we are being influenced by, or perhaps being forced to go along with someone who lacks integrity, it begins to eat away at our soul and affect our self worth. If you find yourself in that place, don't put too much pressure on yourself to exit the situation immediately, whatever it may be. But once you recognize things for what they are, that should be your cue that a change is needed sometime in your future. That might mean having the courage to be a "whistle blower," leaving a job you otherwise love, finding a way to continue without being subjected to it all, or sometimes even separating from a spouse, friend, or partner. As devastating or disappointing as any of that might be, I firmly believe that personal integrity is what matters above all else. It's important to love and respect one's self, and it's almost impossible to do that if you're consistently compromising your values.