Whadda Ya Gunna Do?
By Ed Collins/May, 1995
Anthony D’Acquisto was standing in front of his South Mission Hills home just after 6 o’clock this morning. He was surveying his modest yard as he slowly pulled on his yellow rubber work gloves.
I was still in the walk part of my thrice-weekly walk/jog when Tony noticed me approaching. Before saying anything, I lifted my palms up and shrugged––sign language for What happened? He knew what I meant.
“They finally did it––” Tony said as I reached him, “four to three.” He was referring to the Padres’ win last night over Montreal, which snapped a 15-game losing streak dating back to the fall of ’94.
Tony was my boss 30 years ago when I worked at a supermarket near my home in the eastern San Diego suburb of Spring Valley. I was a 18-year-old college freshman and Tony was the produce department manager. In the evenings and on weekends, usually in 4-hour shifts, I culled fruit, trimmed lettuce, stacked vegetables and mopped floors, among other things.
At the time Tony was probably in his late-30s. This year I’ll turn 49.
I have nothing but good memories of the 5 years I worked at the store, and an especially warm feeling for Tony. He was a good model for me during those impressionable years, and I think I knew it then.
I remember Tony as being all business at the store. He worked with his head down and always against the clock. He began his workday at 6 a.m., and was scheduled to clock out at 4 p.m. When I arrived at 5:00 p.m. Tony would usually still be there, trying to get caught up. For the next 4 hours I would work hard so the next day would be easier for him. Tony was a one-man operation, and I was the only help he had. If I could get enough done that night he’d have time to enjoy his treasured donut break the following morning.
Most afternoons I noticed that when Tony left the store he was carrying a sack filled with fruit and vegetables, which he took to his mother. Once I asked how often he stopped to see her. “Every day,” he answered. I find it interesting that I still remember that conversation.
Tony made an impression on me as a good son, husband, father and a loyal employee. He and his wife Rosalie had 6 children. He was a company man––for 30 years he worked for Mayfair Markets––6 days a week, 9 to 10 hours a day.
I remember Tony as a good-natured man who enjoyed complaining about things in a half-serious way. As I watched him interact with
his fellow employees and the regular customers, every greeting or conversation ended with a pleasantry, a joke or a smile.
Nowadays our regular conversation deals with the Padres. Last year during the player’s strike, Tony was mad. “I won’t watch, even if they do come back,” he said. “Yes you will,” I responded. “You’ll forget. You love the Padres.” He smiled.
On this morning Tony had something else to be upset about. A few nights prior, he explained, someone had broken a window in his 15-year old Oldsmobile, and now he was parking it in his driveway. “Cost me 84 dollars,” Tony said. “And I don’t like to park it here because it leaks oil. But whadda ya gunna do?”
I looked at Tony as he studied his car. For a moment I forgot about the Padres and his car. Suddenly I was 18 years old, standing in a puddle of water, trimming red leaf lettuce over a 50 gallon drum in the backroom of Mayfair Market.
Whadda ya gunna do? That voice. Those words. Tony always used that expression. It was like going back in time––a link to my memory.
“They could have broken all the windows, I guess. Then I’d a traded it in,” he said.
As I jogged off, I thought about the meaning of his often-used expression––Whadaa ya gunna do.
This morning I received good advice from my old boss––assuming that Tony means to take responsibility for what you can and let the rest go.