“People keep all kinds of crazy crap in their storage units,” Fernando and I stood in the cold hall peering into an overstuffed storage unit. If it wasn’t for the deadbolt holding the doors closed, it looked like the doors would spring open at any moment. From what we could see, the unit was full of stacks and stacks of old newspapers. I looked at Fernando, “Why would you pay to keep a storage unit full of old newspapers?” He tapped one of his fingers on his head, “because this storage unit belongs to a homeless person, and some homeless people are crazy. One guy who had a unit above ours lived in his van and he kept things like ladies panty hose in his storage unit.” My eyes bugged out in disbelief. Fernando and I worked together at a production company and sometimes I went with him to the company’s storage unit to pick up or put away job wrap binders. I’d also go with him to the grocery store where he would shop for groceries for the office which is where we were going next.
As we drove I kept asking him questions about the things he had seen in the storage unit, “but where do the homeless people get the money to pay for a storage unit? Where would that guy even find panty hose? And why did he feel the need to save them to the point of renting a storage unit? Who else knows about this?” Fernando answered all my questions patiently. I really took a liking to Fernando because he’s one of those people who is just inherently good. He is quiet, but observant and has the best stories. Stories like, “This one time I came in to clean the office on a Saturday, real early in the morning, and one of the directors was there with these naked girls and this giant stuffed pink elephant and they were just drunk and hanging out taking pictures with the elephant. And I just cleaned around them, I didn’t disturb them.” When you ask Fernando how he’s doing you will always get, “I’m alive, I can’t complain.” Which is a statement people need to hear every single day, it’s a statement that can change your whole day.
At Costco, Fernando is a celebrity. Every person who works there acknowledges him and he knows something about everyone, “How is your son Carol?” “Hey Matt, how was your vacation?” As we walked into the store, Fernando was telling me about this awesome blender he has that he bought at Costco. “They do demos with the blender and make smoothies, lets go watch one.” We stood in front of this disgruntled Costco employee, a pregnant middle aged women wearing a plastic hair net, chopping a banana and muttering into her microphone “And now we add some banana…” The blender came to life and Fernando’s face lit up, “Watch, this is the best smoothie you will ever taste.” The woman saw Fernando smiling, giving her his full attention, and she really started going for it. “And now for some berries, look at thesebeautiful strawberries, in they go with the bananas. So healthy and delicious!” As she poured the finished smoothie into tiny paper cups for us, Fernando told her how much he loves this blender, “it’s the best thing I’ve ever bought for my kitchen.” She winked at him and poured some extra smoothie into his paper cup.
As we went up and down the aisles, Fernando knew what every single person in the office liked to eat and what they didn’t like to eat. He knew what everyone needed. He got a loaf of bread for one of the accountants dog Chloe, “I always get Chloe some bread, I eat some of it in the car on the way back but I give her the rest, she loooves it.” Aside from the bread (which was really purchased for Chloe), Fernando didn’t get anything specific for himself. When we were checking out, he turned everything over so the barcodes were easy to scan. The man who was ringing us up told me, “Fernando, this guy, he is a saint.” As we were walking out I was in a slight state of awe and starting to believe that Fernando did in fact have an exceptional degree of holiness that put him on a much more sacred level than the rest of us. We stopped when we got to a glass case full of watches and jewelry. Fernando explained, “At the end of every shopping trip I look at these watches, they are so nice.”
As Fernando took a moment to himself to look at the watches, I noticed someone had dropped a People magazine on the floor, and when I looked down the three Kardashian sisters were staring up at me. I thought about how loved Fernando was because of his kindness and sincerity, and I wondered if society will ever celebrate the right people. Or if a magazine will ever sell a million copies because people want to read about people like Fernando, because to me, people should.