Someday, I may need to write a book about Ricardo, whom some know as my novio (i.e., boyfriend). The more stories I hear about his life, particularly life since he arrived in Seattle with less than $50 and a pocketful of English vocabulary over six years ago, the more I appreciate who he is and how he got here.
He said throughout school in Mexico he had no interest in learning English. So he'd ditch class for soccer, a more worthwhile pursuit, but I'm sure he was mentally kicking himself just a little when he upped and moved to Seattle some years post-college. A successful businessman in Mexico with a degree in computer engineering, here he was back to ground zero. He worked several jobs in construction, landscaping, auto detailing, dishwashing; picked up English on the streets; slept on a ragged sofa for several years; walked miles in the rain when he had no money for the bus; went without food when money was scarce.
In the beginning, when he spoke no English, he remembers working for a Vietnamese man with a landscaping company. His boss picked him up in a truck one morning and proceded to explain the job to him as they drove. Ricardo remembers his boss speaking a lot, but he remembers nada, nothing, of their conversation. When they arrived at their client's residence, Ricardo unpacked a few tools from the truck and watched as his boss used his fingers to sign that it was 9am and he'd be back at 5pm. Then he drove off.
Being the smart, resourceful engineer that he is, Ricardo quickly figured out he was installing a sprinkler system in the client's yard. I couldn't have even figured that out with a "Sprinkler Installation for Dummies" handbook and an instructional video. He, on the other hand, mentally calculated the dimensions and details, dug and dug and tinkered and assembled all day until the job was finished.
When he decided he was done with these jobs, he approached some Brazilians who owned a graphic design company, asking for work. "Do you know graphic design?" they asked. "Of course," he replied without hesitation. "Good! We'll talk with you next week about possible jobs for you to do." That night he called his older sister in Mexico, running a graphic design company he helped her start. "Can you teach me graphic design in a week?" She laughed, called him crazy. And he was.
Not long after they hired him to help with sales, after introducing him to graphic design in Portugese, they decided it was time to sell the business. Did he want it, they asked? He did. And now he really does know graphic design, and he's rather a whiz at it.