A DAY in the LIFE: Lecon Roberts

Sep 16, 2021 | Crestline


On the job with Lecon Roberts, Goodwin’s Market driver

By RICH CASSONE
Staff Writer

As close as our mountain communities are to Los Angeles, in many ways they are a world away. Aside from the fact that we are often blocked off from the rest of the county because of weather conditions, we operate as a self-sufficient community.


The reason that can happen is because of the people who contribute every day to our local economy by remaining here to work. Our workers are our most important resource. Many could easily take their work off-the-mountain where there is more opportunity and sometimes more money, but a strong sense of community and a need to build right here where they live keeps them keeping our lives going.


I spent several hours on the job with one of them this week. Lecon Roberts drives the online delivery truck at Goodwin’s Market in Crestline. He pronounces his name Lee-con; it was his father’s name and his father’s father’s name, though he’s not a junior or a third. In French, a similar word, Leçon, means “lesson.” Which is important because that’s how he seems to approach his life: as a huge learning opportunity.


“I like to experience new things,” he tells me, “I guess I’m still trying to find my passion.” Born in Albuquerque, N.M., Roberts’ family moved to the mountain when he was very young.


“My parents were always working, my father was in construction and I used to go right from school to work with him to help bring in money,” he said. “But I never wanted to work as much as him. I like to have time to try new things and to travel and to spend time with my girlfriend. In previous jobs I wasn’t able to do that. I was working 18-hour days sometimes but, with Goodwin’s, I put in a full day of work but, because I don’t have to go down the hill, I can still get home in time to see people.”


Even though he doesn’t have to drive down the hill, he probably logs more miles every day than someone who does.


Roberts already has the Goodwin’s van loaded by the time I arrive. He will make several delivery runs today, usually hitting only a few at a time before reloading because of perishables in people’s grocery orders. Our first stop today is in Cedarpines Park. It’s about a 10-minute drive from the store and, when we get to the house, Roberts drives up the unpaved inclined driveway and puts the van in park. While I wait, he unloads a handful of bags and brings them up to the porch. He’s back after a minute.


“Everyone has different needs,” Roberts says, “Some are elderly, some in COVID risk groups, and everyone wants their deliveries handled differently. Some help me carry them inside, and some need help putting them away.”

Occasionally, someone will be very specific: “They’ll tell me, put it on the back porch on this table and cover it with a tarp.”


Roberts obliges whatever their need because he feels he’s making a difference in people’s lives. “A lot of people, I will be the only person they talk to all day. I think that’s important.”


As if to emphasize his point, as we drive to the next delivery, an older gentleman on the side of the road waves to Roberts as we drive past.


“This next stop,” Roberts says, “he’s ordered three times in the last two days. Twice yesterday and once today.
“One of the things I love about driving,” he tells me as we pull up to this frequent buyer’s home, “is that it’s changed my perspective about people on the mountain. There are a lot of nice people up here. Sometimes, when you run into them in other situations, maybe they have some stress going on and you don’t get to see that but, when I meet them in their homes like this, you really get to see how kind they are.”


Roberts unloads this delivery quickly and we’re on our way back to Goodwin’s to load up for the next one which will be in Lake Arrowhead.


“Goodwin’s is an amazing place to work. We all kind of chip in and help out each other. So, for example, if I see that an online order hasn’t been picked yet, I’ll sometimes go ahead and help finish that up. And, if it’s really slow, I’ll grab a broom and sweep or find something else I can do to help out. They are also very understanding when I want to go on one of my trips. I get a lot of flexibility.


That wasn’t the case before Roberts landed at Goodwin’s. In the years leading up to finding his home there, he worked in succession at Lake Gregory, as an electrician, as an oil manufacturer cum hand sanitizer manufacturer, and as the guy who fixed the oil manufacturing equipment. Most of those down-the-hill.


Many of those moves were pandemic dictated, but oil work was hard. “Those were long days, 18 hours sometimes.” After being let go when hand sanitizer wasn’t in as much need, Roberts called his old boss from the Lake Gregory days who was now working at Goodwin’s and half-jokingly said “got a job for me?”


He did. “Come in tomorrow,” he said.


“They had me bagging groceries for a week or so and then one day asked me how my driving record was. I’ve been driving since then.”


Roberts still has a lot of deliveries ahead of him when I say goodbye after the Lake Arrowhead run. I’m not sure that I agree with him that he hasn’t found his passion yet, because the enthusiasm and professionalism that he brings to this job, his natural skill in putting people at ease and making them feel seen, sure feels like a life-passion to me.


What I do agree with him about is that meeting people in their homes can change your perspective. This mountain is our home.

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