By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
When I was 18, my top priority was getting a part-time job so I could save up enough money to purchase the entire Led Zeppelin, Beatles and U2 discographies.
This was life.
Nothing interrupted me from obtaining this goal. And so after graduating from San Benito High School (Class of 99 for those wondering), I did what any teenager obsessed with music would do – I got a job at a pizza shop.
Working from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, I found myself in love with this gig. I got to sleep in, work with other teens who shared my interests, eat all the pizza I wanted during my breaks (but didn’t gain a single pound… I miss those days), and, more importantly, I was on the fast track to accomplishing my goal.
Houses of the Holy – check.
Abbey Road – check.
Achtung Baby – check.
One by one, I was marking these classic albums off my list (yes, I had a list… shut up).
Then came December 1999, by which point I had earned enough money to buy a computer – my first – and a lot of silly little knick-knacks for my Mercury Sable. I was proud of that car. But none of that made a difference compared to my last purchase before I moved on from this glorious pizza gig: The White Album.
You see, it was the last album I needed to complete my collection of discographies from The Big 3, which is how I used to refer to my obsession.
“Hell yes!” I said to myself at the cash register with my money in hand, proud that I had finally reached this climactic point in my life.
“Life is good,” I thought.
Of course, I would later get my act together. But it took the death of my grandmother, someone who always believed in me, to motivate me to better myself. And so I did.
To this day, the only other job I’ve held besides working at Lucas Pizza at Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen is the San Benito News. And once I got my foot in the door, I never stepped out.
Still, I often wonder how much sooner I could have gotten here if I hadn’t wasted so much time goofing off, and for what? Music I could have downloaded for free… er… that is in a totally legal way.
Anyway, while listening to Rocky Raccoon and reviewing this year’s applicants for the San Benito News Scholarship, I was reminded of that day when I bought The White Album. But it wasn’t a fond recollection.
Student after student, I read how each of them were at the top of their class, boasted 4.0 GPAs; were accepted to Ivy League schools, and participated in more extra-curricular activities, acts of volunteerism and community service than I could count on two hands. After being overwhelmed with more scholarship applicants than we’ve ever had, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What was I doing again when I was their age?”
Shame immediately kicked in, and so I walked over to my CDs (yes, I still have them) and stared for a minute. It’s funny how things that were once so important to you now seem so insignificant. Again, it took the exposure of people who are better than I am in every facet of humanity to come to this realization.
With that said, I’d like to take the time to praise the students from Rio Hondo High School, South Texas Academy for Medical Professionals, and San Benito High School who applied for our scholarship, especially this year’s recipient, San Juana Garcia – a young woman who has inspired me to continue bettering myself.
I have the utmost confidence that these students will move on in their lives without wasting time, and without regret.