Ruben Vargas


As Interviewed by Manny Escobar, March 30, 2012

Ruben Vargas: In His Own Words

I come from a smart dad. He was born in a valley down south Texas. He had joined the army. He worked as a mechanic there. He wanted to make a man of himself by having a family, so he moved to Lubbock. That's where I was born. My dad's dream was to own a garage station. He loved cars. An old man had given my dad a garage when he passed. He had owned three garage stations. Shortly after, I was born. I was the baby of the family. All my brothers had to pitch in with the mechanical work. They were in middle school, and my sister was in high school. It was a family business! My brothers didn't like me because every time a tire popped on my bicycle, my dad would buy me a new one. He bought me anything I wanted, so there was some jealousy between my brothers and I.

We moved to an all-white neighborhood, and things were good. My dad bought a new car every year. But, he started to drink, and he liked women, and he liked to gamble. Things had turned around. It got to the point where he and my mom were having marriage problems. He was cheating on her. When I was six-years old, on a Saturday morning, I heard some bangs. I ran to one of the bedrooms, and my dad was laying on the floor. My mom had shot him three times. He survived, but they divorced soon after.

With my dad not with us anymore, I got a lot of beatings from my mom. He had spoiled me before, but without him, my brothers were mean to me. I had no one to protect me. Shortly after, my brothers enlisted in the Air Force, and my sister went to college at Texas Tech. When they were gone, I experimented with drugs, and my mom didn't like that. At age twelve I was smoking pot and doing what I wanted to do. It escalated to the fact that my mom didn't like my lifestyle. Although I was a straight-A student -- I never flunked. As a matter of fact, I was a sophomore, and I was taking junior classes. I wanted to be an architect. But, I began to sell drugs, and I was convinced to do an armed robbery. Everything turned around. I went to jail and my mom bailed me out, and said I was going to have to get a job to pay my fines. At this age, what I thought was making me happy was only making a hole deeper and deeper.

About a month later, she just went ahead and kicked me out of the house. Nobody wanted to help me with things after what I had become. I tarnished the Vargas name. I tarnished the reputation. I worked for years washing dishes. I was only making about four thousand dollars a year, and I don't know how I survived there. When I was nineteen, I bought myself a 69 Mustang. I had no license. I was pulled over numerous times. I did some time in jail. Somehow, the word got out and everyone pitched in to bail me out. At that point I was depressed. I was a failure. Everyone was successful doing this and traveling there. And here I am, just messing up the Vargas name.

I hitchhiked out of my town to El Paso. I worked at the Taco Bell for about a month there. My brother had fixed my Mustang. He told me he wanted to go to Austin. I got a job at the University of Texas. I only got paid once a month, so I had to wait for my paycheck. I got a reference from my job for an apartment. After I got that apartment, I stayed there for ten years. During that time, I met my wife, Leticia. She was a blind date, arranged by my brother. At that time I restored a pick-up, I had a motorcycle, a Monte Carlo. I wanted Leticia to think she was with someone independent. The reason I did that was because all my life nobody really thought I had the guts to make it on my own.

I married her because I was lonely. I would usually pick up a girl and take her home. It was a one night show. I would come home alone. I had a house by that time when I was twenty-six. I also wanted a family. My siblings took vacations, but I didn't. Where was I going to go alone? I always needed company. I had four kids and a step-daughter. I got back to fixing houses. A friend of mine told me about concrete. You make a lot of money with concrete. After ten years at University of Texas, I started at concrete. I was a concrete truck driver and I made a lot of money. Life was like I would have never imagined. Life was good. My wife had got a twenty-dollar raise every year. After a day of work, I would like to come home to something good: a family.

After that we bought a new house and everything flipped. It was a beautiful home. I continued my concrete truck driving. But it's for a short time now. I want to finish renovating my house, relax and enjoy life.

I learned from my mistakes. It's good because I changed the road I was on. Other people don't want to change from their bad lives because it's fun. But I learned that there are other ways of having fun. I try to give the right tools to my kids so they can understand the good values in life, because I wasn't given that opportunity. I'm forty- seven now. By the time I'm fifty, I want my house fixed and my 69 Mustang back. By the time I'm fifty, I want to be set with my house paid off. I can tell my family, Y'all told me I would never accomplish anything, and look at me now. It's honest work. This is honest work. My name is Ruben Vargas, and I mean every word I say.