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


“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 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.