I arrived early in the morning at the Guadalajara Restaurant. I said hello to a few acquaintances and we spoke about all the school reunions going on. I asked the waitress for a glass of water with lemon and waited to meet my wife. Today, Ben Santos joined me. He mused and reflected over the times he visited my business, AMICP, in 1993-98.

In those days, Ben spoke of his keen interest in starting a small business but he had not decided what it would be at that time. Ben had so many specific questions about starting a small business. Today Ben still remembers our cordial conversations. He remembers going away with a feeling that I was patient and encouraging.

Even 10 years ago, I could see Ben's strong ambition and drive that would lead him to make his dream of starting a business a reality. We revisited that old adage, "People do not plan to fail. People fail to plan." Ben did his homework, prepared and planned for his business to succeed.

Ben said that he had considered buying the old car wash that used to be across Avenue J from Pizza Hut in 1991. Circumstances would not allow that purchase to happen. It was not his time.

Take a leap of faith to 2005 and Ben celebrated the grand opening of Keep it Kleen Car Wash on the corner of Avenue J and FM 1889. He seems content with his business accomplishment and feels that "it was a wise decision that has paid off better than any stocks or bonds" that he has ever delved in.

Ben retired from Koch Refineries and has been with Engineering Safety Consultants for about 10 years. He hails from immigrant parents and was born in Casa Grande, Ariz. He got to participate in many field jobs throughout the country. He has seven brothers and two sisters. He enjoys saying "soy el ultimo de los Santos." With a smile he added: "It is a humorous reference to being the youngest in my family."

Ben knows about community volunteer service with three years as a RISD school board member in the 1990s. His priorities revolve around church and family activities. He does exercise and keeps busy with his business. Ben mentioned that he and his wife, Sandra, think that one of the most enjoyable interactions involves family time, especially with their grandchildren.

If we talk about family cohesiveness, we must mention the fact that Ben's brother, Sam Santos, also opened a business next door to his corner car wash. That would be Fast Fleet Oil & Lube, which opened in March. It is fantastic enough that Ben achieved his dream of a successful business. Now he has seen the same dream materialized for his brother, on an adjacent property to his own. Well, there are no words to describe that experience.

Ben was speaking, but I believe it was his heart that was talking when he said: "I believe God works in mysterious ways and because of God's grace I am."

Joe-Santos Medina is a resident of Robstown. Readers may contact him via email at joesantosm@hotmail.com.