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
No Job Too Big Or Too Small
Fast hard Workers
Residential or Commercial
NO JOB TOO BIG OR SMALL
Demolition and Clean up
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 www.gabishauling.com.
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
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”
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 mastery.
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.