Red Bank man pedals his way through landscaping jobs
A Red Bank man who is a landscaper does the job with pedal power and sheer determination.
Ricardo Paz rides his bicycle through the rainy streets of Red Bank with his favorite ranchera music playing from a speaker strapped to the handlebars.
Drivers and walkers honk and wave, and out of nowhere, a stranger on a skateboard gives him a cup of coffee. That's because Paz is not a stranger to them.
The 40-year-old runs his one-man landscaping business from the back of his bike. He hauls the lawn mower, leaf bower and other gear on a trailer festooned with American flags and a sign with his slogan, "A long way to freedom."
In this country, Paz pedals sometimes an hour each way to clients in Red Bank and neighboring towns. Pete Soviero seems him drive past his mechanic shop every day.
"You know, everybody knows him. He's like an icon here in Red Bank," Soviero says.
"I like this country. So that's why I love it. This country gives opportunities for everybody and it gave me opportunity, too," Paz says.
A father of four, he first came to the United Stares from Mexico at age 17, went back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico for years, working construction and landscaping jobs. He then came for good in 2006, and he got his work permit through a maintenance job at a local Catholic church.
When he started mowing lawns on weekends two years ago, he went for his driver's test, but failed.
"Maybe this time I'll do it in English because last time I do it in Spanish," Paz says.
But Paz still had his bicycle. A neighbor helped him build the trailer. A local sign maker, impressed by his hustle, made him a free sign.
The pandemic has mostly shut down his job at the church, so these days he's working full time as a cycling landscaper, keeping the lawns trim and the people who seem him pedaling the streets, a bit more inspired and speaking for myself, a bit more humble.
Paz says he may take the drivers test again, but with lines at the Motor Vehicle Commission still very long and the bicycle bringing him more recognition, and maybe even customers, he says he'll stick to cycling for a while.