26 January 2012

Buena Gente

I've been working at my job at Ford for nearly a year. In fact, I think it'll be a year in just a few short days...which also means the anniversary of the snowacolypse in Kansas City (God help us all!). I remember this time a year ago: I was so excited for something new, challenging and exciting, somewhere I could better excel, grow myself and really use my skills and, better yet, my degree. The world was my oyster.

A year a later, I've learned a lot. I remember feeling so lost, uncomfortable, nervous and really insecure at times as I entered the manufacturing world. I went to college about 15 minutes from the plant for 4 years, yet I can honestly say I never knew it existed. I'm not really sure whether that shows how much of a bubble I lived in at school or if Kansas City just isn't a big Ford city, but that's besides the point.

In my year of learning, one of my favorite things to learn has been about all the different people who work at the plant. These people are so hard working, it can put anyone to shame. They work crazy long hours, run on little sleep and wear bright yellow reflective vests as their fashion statement. But despite their matching attire, I've had the privilege to learn about the individuality of many individuals at the plant.

I've met people who have culinary degrees, run rodeos on their farm, drive an hour one way to work because they love their job, run marathons for the thrill of it (and get up at 4am to train), speak Spanish even though they're from Malaysia, have worked and traveled all over the world and even ones who have grown up in Kansas City and been here all their lives. Many, upon having a real conversation with them, are absolutely brilliant. It just amazes me how much I can learn from them. They are really, really interesting people, many of whom have become some very good friends of mine. They've enriched my life in so many ways, and I'm happy to call them my friends. 

These people, they're buena gente. In Spanish, this means "good people." To me, it has a rather profound meaning, because you don't hear it often in the English language. In Spanish, it's used as a strong compliment, more than just "he's cool," or "she's neat," but it's meant to really get to the core of a person, who they are deep down. Or at least, that's how I interpret it. 

I feel fortunate to have met these people, to have been impacted by them in ways I'm sure I don't yet even know, to be challenged and stretched and grown by their influence in my life. I only hope that I could give as much back to them as they've given to me.