Thursday, July 3, 2014

Humble Beginnings

     In my neighborhood, I used to walk past an old faded blue pickup truck with rusted bumpers. It had 

tall sheets of plywood lining the walls of the flatbed to create a box for debris. A sign hung on the back 

of the truck that read:

Gabi’s Hualing 818-555-5555

  My wife Robin and I would laugh and point whenever we walked or drove by the forlorn truck 

parked next to a cement culvert of the Los Angeles River. We figured the owner must be a loser. If 

you’re going to enter the hauling business, at least learn to spell the word “hauling.” Right? It’s the only 

word you MUST get correct. And did he actually register a domain name with an incorrect spelling? 

How much business could Gabi actually be getting?

  The truck did not move for over a year, it seemed. Or, maybe Gabi did a hauling job here and there 

and then returned his truck to the bridge over the L.A. River. I shook my head and snickered with 

disdain for Gabi and his efforts.
     Then, about a year ago, a large post card flyer appeared on my front porch -- the post card was 

advertising Gabi’s Hauling:

Trash Bins and Container Rentals: Let us do the Hauling and Cleaning!
Rubbish and Trash Removal of All Kinds
Odd Jobs
No Job Too Big Or Too Small
Fast hard Workers
Reasonable Rates
Residential or Commercial
Free Estimates


Demolition and Clean up
Rubbish Removal
Cement Work
Moving Appliances
Fire Damage
Construction Sites
Single Items to Multiple Truck Loads

     I felt ashamed, I must admit. I had dismissed Gabi as a loser, but within a few years he had 

transformed his company from one small truck with a misspelled sign to a prospering business with a 

fleet of trucks, many workers, and plenty of jobs, all during an economic downturn. And he did it 

embracing work that many people dismiss -- trash and junk removal. 

     His website is now spelled correctly, and you can check him out at

     It was a great lesson for me. I remember a phrase, “do not despise small beginnings...” I had to look 

it up to find its source, and it’s from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Prophet Zechariah:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10

     It’s great advice, both as a way to look at the world, and to look at my work. Everybody was a 

beginner once, and you have to start somewhere. Success and excellence come from showing up day 

after day, making mistakes, learning and improving in small increments. That diligence leads to 


     While Gabi did all the work, I also give credit to my country, the United States. On this July 4th 

weekend, I realize that Gabi, who is an immigrant, could not have succeeded to the same degree in any 

other country. It gives me hope that we are still the land of opportunity.

  I have more respect for humble beginnings now, and next year I’m going to tear up the asphalt in 

my driveway and replace it with paving stones and turf, and I’m going to hire Gabi to do the demolition 

and to cart away the debris.

1 comment:

  1. Every time you post about this it really makes me want to go! I am so ready to escape now and explore this beautiful place with my family which I hope to do soon.