“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”
A friend of mine recently noted that I seem to be in all the right places at all the right times. While I do find myself getting my foot in the door at a few correct moments, I attribute that luck to my persistence and hard work.
Before I came to Walla Walla I was working for a nation-wide wine retailer. I liked my job, but I hoped that I could make a better connection with the industry than fighting for America’s superstore.
I formulated plans to leave, and began searching for the right place to go. I landed a job interview for an Event Coordinator position at a winery in California’s San Joaquin Valley. While my hopes were high, my qualifications were unsatisfactory. I did not get the job, and I found myself back at square one.
When the going is good, I always strive to learn more. When faced with defeat, I have no choice but to educate myself to the point of success. With one opportunity missed, another one opened. I continued looking, and I liked what I found.
My sites were set on a small winery called Rasa Vineyards, located in the emerging region of Walla Walla, Washington. After a convincing cover letter and a few phone interviews, Rasa awarded me the opportunity to come on board as their seasonal harvest worker. My temporary position wouldn’t pay much, but if I wanted to work in wine country, I had to start somewhere.
Jordan and I had never been to Walla Walla, we had no family or friends on the west coast, and we had no place to stay. Four hours into our journey my truck broke down with every item I owned on board. We got a tow, but the mechanic couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Luckily the truck started up again, and we kept going.
During our journey Dakota broke down more times than I could count. Jordan and I would sometimes have to stop in the middle of the highway. Her little Subaru parked behind my Dodge. Hazards blinking, just waiting for my truck to run again. At times we drove only at night, the cool air lessening the strain on my vehicle.
When Jordan and I finally arrived in Walla Walla, our new home was a Motel 6. We did our dishes in the bathroom sink and cooked our meals in a microwave. Nobody wanted to rent to a guy with temporary work and a girl with no job.
Through countless hours of online searching and calling leads, we finally connected with a man named Ben. Ben was embarrassed at the place he had to offer us, it even took some convincing to do so. A basement apartment under a rented house, previously destroyed by the last tenants and never fixed up.
Quick Note: Ben is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. While the apartment was in rough shape, he had fully disclosed it’s condition and did his best to fix up some things before we moved in (he has also done some fixing for us while we’ve been here). I remember him telling me during our first phone conversation that he was not ready to rent the unit, but if Jordan and I really had our backs against the wall he would be willing to show us the place. I cannot thank him enough for helping us establish ourselves in Walla Walla.
Our fist impression of the apartment was one with body-sized holes in the walls, tiles ripped off the floor, destroyed baseboards, mold on the bathroom ceiling, and appliances that kind-of worked. Honestly, we did not have anywhere else to go, so the place was ours for $650/month. Everything included.
We dressed it up a bit. I painted some walls, patched some holes, and fixed a few more things here and there. We made the apartment as much of a home as we could, for what portion of our budget we could spare.
I started at the winery with a few odd days from the end of August through early September. When the grapes finally came in I worked every single day from September 15th to November 11th with only one day off: November 1st. Some days were shorter, some days were longer, but the work was strenuous. I came to Walla Walla weighing 142.5lbs. I finished the season at 154.
Knowing my position at Rasa was temporary, I constantly searched for future employment. I secured a part-time position with another winery, but have yet to find a job I can call a career.
When we first came to Walla Walla, Jordan was working as a housekeeper. She has since landed a position at a bakery and is doing what she loves. I could not be more proud of her for pursuing her passion and finding someone else to pay for all the ingredients. Her current employment was no stroke of luck though, it was a culmination of past education, continued self-teaching, and constant vigilance in searching job boards.
Moving onward and upward is not about having the right timing or being lucky. Success is brought on just the way Pelé says it is, “Hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” But what do I know. I live in a basement and get by on a part-time job.