Friday, September 11, 2009

Not Baseball Related At All, Had to Get This Off of my Chest...

Up until June of 2008, I had a pretty good job. I was the foreman at a pretty successful metal shop. I worked there for a few years, I started as a low paid temp and worked my way up to night supervisor and later when the shop underwent an upper management change, I was named foreman of the entire shop-all shifts. We were very busy, it was not uncommon for me to work 70 plus hours a week and still think about work at home. I hired a lot of people over the years. There were menial tasks that didn’t pay too much or require much experience. I believed in second chances and didn’t do background checks on my potential employees. Most times I hired kids if we clicked in the interview, not based on what they could do. I believed that if you wanted to work and were willing to show up, I could teach you whatever needed to be done. When I ran the night shift I hired a group of teenagers who were all friends. The smallest of them seemed to be the “leader”, his name was Fernando, but everyone called him Pollo (which means Chicken). Pollo and I became pretty close. If I had an issue with anyone’s work, I went to Pollo and things were taken care of. He was very talented at working with his hands. He learned to polish and weld and looked like he could go very far in metalworking, most days. Other days he was hardly there. These kids were young (18 or 19) and they all had kids of their own and were living away from their parents, with their girlfriends who were also young. I always believed they were trying to learn a skill so they could support their families legitimately. Pollo was 18, worked around 30 hours a week and made 9 bucks an hour. He also drove a Cadillac. He owned it when I hired him. I never cast judgment on him as to where the money came from. I heard rumbling around the shop that the kids had good weed. That didn’t really bother me. Metal working is very hard work and can be painful. I was an alcoholic. I didn’t smoke weed, but as long as you weren’t high at work, I didn’t care too much. Pollo’s group had a few different boys in it. His best friend Anthony, Jose, Frankie, Javier and Enrique. Enrique didn’t hang out with them too much, he learned to weld and he only cared about work. He worked two jobs and told me he could work 80 hours a week if I let him. He was a really good worker and he came in everyday, so I let him work as long as he wanted, but then he stopped coming in. This wasn’t good, I was worried he was in jail or something, but I got a hold of him and realized that his day job as a roofer told him he had to pick jobs and he went with that. I wished him well and told him to keep in touch. I taught the other boy’s different skills, but they were too erratic about coming to work. Eventually, I had to let everyone but Jose go. I taught Jose how to run a CNC saw and he stayed working for me for a long while. One day he came to me and was really upset, he said “Enrique got killed, he got hanged”. Holy crap, I need a drink, I thought. I got the details and sure enough he was right. I went to see Enrique’s mother (I was pretty involved in my kids lives) and she was very upset. The other boys were visiting and they filled me in. Enrique was seeing a girl and her brothers didn’t want her dating someone like him. They killed him and hung him to a tree to make it look like a suicide. He hung all night, he died on October 30, 2007 and his neighbors thought he was a Halloween decoration. He had just turned 20, his son was 3, he daughter was an infant and his Mom had lost her second son. I pleaded with the local police to investigate the crime, but they said it was clearly a suicide and there would be no further investigation. His family would receive no benefits because of that. I raised money around the shop for the family and passed around a card. I also arranged for the shop to close so everyone could attend the services. My brother Kenny had died 6 months earlier and I am still shaking just thinking about him (I love you Kenny, like the tattoo on my arm says BROTHERS FOREVER!) and Enrique and how they left this earth so soon. Two boys with kids, both dead before they hit 25. As the service approached, we got very busy at work. Upper management decided that we couldn’t shut down for the service, but guys could attend and clock out, but they would get paid for two hours of the time. Overtime makes a difference in a paycheck and most guys opted for that. My wife and I attended and so did about 5 other guys that was it. I gave the card with the cash in it to Enrique’s sister Marisol and attended the entire ceremony. It was heartbreaking. It was open casket. I am not a religious person by any means, but I couldn’t help wish there was some higher power that needed Enrique and Kenny more than we did. All of the other boys (other than Frankie, who was in jail) were at the ceremony with their kids, all dressed up. It was moving, it was beautiful, it was sad. I ran into Frankie last night. A customer at my current job lives with Frankie. Small town, small world. I went to see him last night. Frankie and I were not close. I taught him to drive a forklift and he crushed his foot with it not too long after. He was high. I made an excuse for him, his sister picked him up and he was no longer an employee of mine. I went to see him last night because I missed Pollo and I thought he could help me find him. Frankie was drunk and loud, but looked better than before. He told me I was the best boss he ever had and everyone looked up to me like a Father. That made me feel good. I asked him for Pollo and he said “Pollo locked up”. Wow, for what? He told me he got busted with a large weight of cocaine and was locked up for 20 years. Pollo had a baby with Anthony’s sister, so I asked him about Anthony. “Anthony’s dead, he OD’d.” Holy shit. I lost it there. Anthony had been a guest in my home, a good friend. He was a big boy (6’4/250) but very quiet. My wife and I remembered that when he came over he sat in our biggest chair and always leaned back like a King watching over his subjects. He was cool. Now he’s gone. So is Jose apparently. He was shot after a botched robbery attempt. I told Frankie I had to go. I wasn’t ready for this information. My life has changed a lot since then. I am not a successful business man anymore; I am kind of starting over, trying to get an education and working a crappy job. I don’t really “adopt” kids anymore. I asked Frankie for Pollo’s Mother’s number, I am anxious to go see her. She raised a good boy, a good friend. Sorry this post isn’t baseball related, sometimes reality creeps in. I miss you Kenny! I miss you Enrique! I miss you Jose! I will come see you Pollo. Jehova es mi pastor, nada me faltara. The photo at top is of my brother, Kenny Bacon. He is my hero, he is an American Hero. His daughter misses him as much as I do. Sorry this isn't chipper, just how I feel right now...I think you all understand, today is a pretty somber day for all Americans. I think everyone lost someone special 8 years ago. I just can't stop thinking of my Baby Brother.


  1. hard hitting story troll.... It's sad when stuff like that goes down.... If you need someone to talk to i'm here bro!