In between cleaning, doing laundry, and being a handyman in the Student Life Center, 64-year-old Arnulfo Pardo, who goes by Arnie, offers life advice to students.
Chad Myron, a Fort Lewis College student, works at the Student Life Center, where Pardo is a custodian, and has a good relationship with Pardo. The two discuss things like the food on the Navajo Reservation.
“We talk back and forth about our daily lives,” Myron said.
Pardo also tells Myron stories about when he was younger and used to box.
As for advice, Pardo has plenty of that to offer too. But when asked about the biggest obstacles in his life, he simply said that he has none.
“There are some out there for some people but I don’t have any,” he said. “You got to be positive all the time, regardless if you got problems, everybody got problems. No obstacles.”
Pardo first started working as a custodian at FLC almost five years ago. He considers retiring but stays because of his interactions with the students. He loves talking to his “kids”, as he calls them. And he’s grateful for their positivity.
“I never hear complaints,” he said.
Before he was a custodian, he was a carpenter and worked for a construction company. He knew that business was slow for carpenters at the time so he wanted to find a new job.
Pardo did not pay much attention to what the work was. He just wanted work.
Eventually, he was introduced to the college by a contractor. Pardo remembers that the contractor asked him if he would be embarrassed to work as a custodian. He said no because it was a new job and that was exactly what he wanted.
After a few months of working for the contractor, Pardo’s direct supervisor, Jake Epps, asked Pardo to stay.
Epps knows of Pardo’s love for sharing his life story.
“Once you get him rambling he’ll tell you some long stories,” Epps said.
One of Pardo’s favorite stories is the story of how he ended up in Durango.
“That one is a long story, a nice one too,” Pardo said.
Born in Mexico, Pardo left the county and said that he would never go back. He traveled across the United States and never stayed in one place for more than a few days. He would meet new people, work for gas money, and go.
Eventually, Pardo met his wife in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she was a college student. He continued to travel with her and, more than 40 years ago, she introduced him to Durango. He fell in love with the area. So they decided to stay.
Pardo now lives in Ignacio and has a farm where he tends cattle, Myron said. He has visited every state except Alaska and Hawaii.
This is part of the reason why Pardo has no regrets
“I had a good life,” he said, “So, if it ends tomorrow? Hey, it’s good.”