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  • Writer's pictureFrank Zapata



July 15, 2021 (Short Story)

An intro to "Z." One of my early mentors in life.

Here's the quick backstory - I was only 15 and still in High School when I got my job as a telemarketer for a mortgage refinancing company. The top boss hired me to be a part-timer since School was still the priority. I could easily say that I was horrible at it or didn't know what the hell I was doing. My brain found it difficult to take in all these brand-new terms that most adults weren't even familiar with, so training for this job took longer for me.

There were two main offices -a small one that only consisted of the two owners, the owner's brother, and the receptionist. The other office was a lot larger and included another business partner, some loan officers, and many telemarketers. This office was where all the action took place. I could not go to this one since it was farther away from my house, and my mom refused to get on the freeway to take me there. So I was stuck in the smaller office, making my calls from a small conference room ALL ALONE. I had gone to the bigger office for training for about five days, but it wasn't enough. Some people referred to me as the company baby since they thought it was cute that I was telemarketing and that my mom still had to drive me to work.

One day, when I went to work, I noticed a new person in this small office. He was new to California, a family member to one of the owners, who had just moved from Chicago. His name was: let's call him Z since many called him that anyway. In his late 20s, he was tall, walked straight with a perfect posture, was charismatic, and had a very soothing personality. He had moved to California, intending to make a lot of money as a loan officer. He was married and had a kid, but his family was back in Chicago.

Now, every telemarketer belonged under the guidance of a loan officer. Given that I was not part of the larger office, I had no direction, belonged to no one, and was still a newbie in the industry. Well, that day that I met Z, I was assigned to him. It's almost like I was the last player waiting to get picked. And he was the team with no options at that specific moment. He got stuck with me. And that was the beginning of my time with Z.

Z played many roles during that time in my life. He was my boss, my friend, an older brother, and most importantly, a great mentor.

We established a great bond, and I looked up to him. I thought he was cool. He never cared about my age, but he most certainly cared about everything else. He, along with others in the company, molded me into this different persona. He noticed I was shy and scared, but he worked with me. He taught me how to hustle since it was sales, after all.

But he also taught me other valuable lessons. He was a family guy and different from the other guys. He always talked about his wife and his kid, and I could sense that maybe he felt lonely. Perhaps I was his pet project or distraction or his charity case. Whatever the reason is, I am thankful I met Z. He was a smoker who constantly lectured me on not smoking. He would lecture me on the importance of School. He would buy me lunch and drive me to the larger office when he had the chance. He wanted me to surround myself with others who were doing better to be more motivated. My job consisted of getting appointments so that he could go and close them, so of course, my best interest was also his.

When out and about, Z would always watch how much I drink. Yes, I was drinking from an early age already. I was hanging out with guys that were in their mid-20s and making good money. Good food and expensive drinks were always present, but Z never let me get drunk, or he would call it a night while others continued, and he would drive me back. He taught me about everything in moderation and to never make a fool out of myself.

Z was probably the only real friend I had at that time, and it's crazy to look back on that. He knew about my family issues, and at that time, my parents were often arguing, and I could sense a divorce coming up. I was lucky to have a mentor during my High School years. It kept me away from trouble. I don't talk to Z that much anymore, but when we do, it's almost as if no time has gone by, or it feels as if we talked days before.

Z is the reason that I believe that everyone needs a mentor in their life. Whether it's family or non-family, guidance is fucking crucial, especially from mentors who want what's best for you.

I have so many more stories and memories about Z, but this will do for now.


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