I drove along the cart path that crossed the dry wash, rose up toward the green, followed an “S” curve around the bathroom and led to the fourteenth hole. As I passed the bathroom I consciously let a wheel drop off the cart path onto the neatly racked gravel entrance to the bathroom, just to harass Francisco and make him rake it again. Francisco saw me and came at me roaring like a lion, throwing a leaf rake at me and swearing in Spanish words I didn’t understand. I quickly raised my arm to fend off the rake as it hit my elbow and laughed. I could hear Francisco still swearing at me as I scooted away.
His behavior was uncharacteristic of his personality. At five foot two and over two hundred pounds, Fancisco was a like a jolly old Santa Claus. Always laughing and joking, he’d needle somebody every chance he could. Of course, he wasn’t attractive with his shirt stretched over his belly and flopping just above his belt. Nevertheless, everyone loved Francisco. That is until he became overly responsible for his new assignment.
Francisco’s new assignment to clean bathrooms started with the Corporate Agronomist changed our course preparation. We were to begin working as teams on specific sections of the course. Mine for example was holes 7, 15, 16, and 17 on the Cochise course. Francisco was assigned to clean all the bathrooms on both courses, every day. He was told there were to be clean and pristine. Shrubs, trees, walkways…everything.
Francisco started his assignment using a normal work cart like the rest of us. At first, he cramed rags and cleanser in a bucket. After a while Francisco’s pride led him to carry a shovel and rake to make the outside area neater. Of course he had to add loppers to trim shrubs and trees. After about three weeks, the rattling of his tools in the cart started to get to him. His feeling of importance escalate as well. His shirts were always clean and stayed tucked in. We watched him lobbying every day with the mechanics for a holder for this, a clamp for that, virtually a home for every tool on is cart. One day while in the shop Francisco spotted a small John Deere tractor, about the size of a home mower.
Each and every day afterward Francisco lobbied the mechanics to let him use the tractor. Then, some two weeks later, they finally agreed.
But, that was just the beginning. Francisco showed them what he needed to carry all his tools and cleaning supplies. Each week, as the mechanics fabricated a tubular frame around the seat of the tractor, Francisco would sit erectly on his little tractor, hold his head proudly, and put-put-put out of the maintenance yard onto the golf course. If he heard it, he completely ignored the teasing and laughing from the rest of the crew.
Fabrication continued on Francisco’s little tractor until there was a tubular frame from the foot rests up to the seat hanging behind about two feet.
Oh, did Francisco take the razing as each day we’d see him talking with the mechanics about another modification he wanted. He was so proud of his tractor that we called his “Machina de banjos’, (Machine of the bathrooms). When he was done his tractor was fitted with a rack for towels and cleansers and tubes on the sides for brooms, rakes, a shovel and loppers.
I have a lasting image of Francisco leaving the shop in the early morning light sitting proudly erect on his slow moving tractor wearing a pith helmet. He looked like a Padre’ riding his plodding donkey across the desert to meet another parishioner.