Mix up a little bold, a dash of brash, 2 heaping cups of sarcasm, 1 large jalapeno pepper. Stir in a generous portion of quick wit and one large sense of humor. Add plenty of smarts, a whole lot of heart & soul… Voila! You have anything but a regular Joe; as in Hererra.
He’s an original. A classic. A piece of work. They broke the mold and kicked the living daylights out of the mold-maker. He’s the type of person who leaves an indelible impression.
Joe is SoCal through and through. However, he picked up a New York sense of humor somewhere along the way. He can bust chops with the best. I’ll never forget my first encounter with the man. I was working in the marketing department for Denny’s in LaMirada, Ca.
We met briefly upon his arrival. He was there to interview for a job as a regional marketing manager which meant we’d be peers if he was hired. After his interviews with the higher-ups, he blows into my office – no knock, no “excuse me”, no “sorry to interrupt.” He closes the door behind him, pulls up a chair, sits down, plants his elbows on my desk and without hesitation cuts to the chase, “Listen, I just spent 3 hours getting an earful of corporate B.S. I need to get the straight poop from someone and that might as well be you. What’s it like to work here?” His uniqueness was readily apparent.
I was thrilled, the following week, when it was announced that Joe would be joining the team. Little did I know he was about to turn the place on its ear. At first I was taken aback by some of the things he’d say. Talk about telling it like it is. He can’t spell “politically correct” not to mention act that way. What you see is what you get with Joe. He knows when to hold em and he knows when to fold em. His style is captivating and entertaining.
He always has a comeback and it’s usually one that leaves his victims speechless. One weekend Joe decides he’s going to shave his ever-present mustache. That Monday morning we get on the elevator together with one of our least favorite colleagues whose name will go unmentioned. This numbnut decides to make a disparaging remark about Joe’s new look. I knew the moment this cat opened his yap he was headed down “Stupid Street”. He says, “Hey Joe, now that you shaved your stache your nose looks bigger!” I wince. Joe retorts, “Maybe you should try shaving your pubic hair!” The guy looked like he’d been tased. I laughed so hard I thought I’d have a laundry bill. What a classic.
Joe was the King of the Boondoggle. I’d like to go into detail however I’m saving that for my book. Let’s just say he took advantage of any opportunity that presented itself and he always included me. It was “Perks-a-Plenty” — dinners on the agency, the Plaza Hotel, Monday Night Football, All-Star Games, The Masters… I swear when you hang with Joe there’s never a dull moment.
Over the years I learned a lot from Joe. He may not even realize the most important lesson he taught me. It wasn’t like he sat me down and said, “Do it this way”. It was taught by example. He worked hard but never let it get in the way of a party. Joe has the uncanny ability to not take life too seriously. He’s able to find the humor in just about any situation. He helped me understand the importance of living in the moment and when an opportunity presents itself to grab it and go for it.
It’s been 25 years since our reign at Denny’s came to an end. In 1990, I took a transfer to Spartanburg, SC (I know, what I thinking?) and Joe stayed planted in the OC. I keep up with him and his wonderful wife Maryann through Facebook. He’s still at it! Go figure he’s living life to the fullest, still partying with gusto and enjoying the moment. I have a sense the moments are even sweeter now with Maryann by his side.
Despite the years and the miles I somehow know, the next time we get together it will be like nothing has changed. We will pick up right where we left off — Having a few beers, me dodging a few of Joe’s barbs and belly laughing until my sides ache. It will be like no time has passed. To me, that’s how you define true friendship.
As my man turns another page on the birthday calendar, I regret that we can’t be together. My life is better for knowing the Boondoggle King, the Costa Rican Cowboy, my buddy –Jalapeno Joe. Thanks for the memories big guy! Let’s make more soon… Happy Birthday with love.