I was on the streets of Shafter to get answers for a survey that we were conducting. I was getting frustrated because I had been turned down by residents who did not want to take part in any survey. It was on about the seventh or eighth person in a row that I had been turned down when I saw a couple of ladies coming out of a market on Central Avenue. I really didn’t want to try again, but something told me to give them a shot.
I started talking to them and her friend turned to the other lady and told her, “I think he was sent to us!”
I didn’t know what they were talking about, I was just glad I had a couple of ladies who were willing to talk to me. She told me that her name was Iliana Rodriguez, and she would be willing to talk to me. Well, she did some talking, but soon the subject matter changed. She said that she had been having such a hard time in the last couple of months. She answered my question about the city of Shafter having a high quality of life. She said that she thought the quality of life was good, but that she had been having trouble dealing with life recently.
She used to work at Apple Market with her husband, David Carrillo. Carrillo was a longtime employee of Apple Market. I remember David from his years at the market. He always had a smile for me and would always have something nice to say – sometimes even when I wasn’t having such a great day, David would make me smile.
Well, it is sad that Carrillo has spent over a month in the ICU department of a local hospital. Rodriguez said that she has had a lot of worry because of mounting medical bills, as well as everyday living bills. When I asked her about the city, she said that the city has been great to her, working with her on her late bills, being understanding and patient. She said that there was a man named Dennis at the city who has been very special. She also said that there are others in the community who have been helpful to her in this time of need.
She asked if I could let them know how much she appreciates them for their love and support. This includes Francisco Martinez, who has started a GoFundMe web page for Carrillo.
As they were thanking me and leaving, her friend turned to her again, and said, “Yeah, this was no coincidence. This happened for a reason.”
Well, I thought about that, and the project that had frustrated me so much that day. I thought that surveys and polls are great to gauge certain things, like maybe how many people think that the roads are in good shape, or how efficient of a job our leaders are doing in running the city. But, a poll or survey really can’t tell you what are in the hearts of its residents. The uniqueness or the heart of a city can only be judged by living here and dealing with the people of Shafter on a daily basis.
I love Shafter, and I am going to use this as a wake-up call to myself to treat those around me better and to appreciate those who have helped me when I have faced dire circumstances. You know who you are. I thank Ms. Martinez and Ms. Rodriguez for reminding me what living in a small town is really like. It won’t show on any poll, but it will always show up in the hearts of its residents.
Jamie Stewart is editor of The Shafter Press. The opinions expressed are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the paper or its management.