|For the past 10 years, Ray Armijo has been working at the Camp Verde Transfer Station. Armijo’s father told him “work until you can’t work no more, and hopefully your health will let you enjoy your golden years.” VVN/Bill Helm|
CAMP VERDE - Ray Armijo has followed in his father's footsteps. Well, some of those footsteps.
Ever since he can remember, the 51-year-old Armijo and his father shared a love of music. Just like his father, Armijo learned to play the drums. But music has mostly been a pastime for Armijo. He now calls himself a 'retired' drummer.
Armijo has lived the life of a musician, moving from Flagstaff to Huntington Park, Calif., back to Flagstaff, then to Phoenix, before making the Verde Valley his home. For the past 10 years, Armijo has made the Camp Verde Transfer Station his professional home. Armijo works as a solid waste tech, or in layman's terms, a transfer station attendant.
"There are seven transfer stations in Yavapai County," Armijo says. "We are the biggest and the best.
"There are three keys to success," says Armijo. "The first is liking who you work for. The second is liking who you work with. And the third is liking what you do.
"What I like most about working here," Armijo says, "is the relationship with our customers. They throw a bag or two. They tell a tale or two. And sometimes they tell big tales."
Armijo says he arrives at work at 7:45 a.m. so he can start the generator, "to get it prepared for the day." Armijo's daily duties include, but are not limited to, transporting tires, containing the brush pile, containing the aroma, compacting trash, metal recycling, and operating the front-end loader, back hoe and roll-off truck.
Armijo also says that the chip material at the transfer station is free to the public. He says that the material can be used as fill, outline landscaping and for trails. Armijo also says that the pile of refined chip material can be used in the garden.
Though Armijo enjoys his work, his work does not define him. Armijo talks just as much about his family and his love of music. Armijo says how much he loves his wife Gina, whom he met in 1988 and married in 1995. "She has been with me through the thick and thin," Armijo says.
As any proud father would, Armijo talks lovingly of his five children: Santos, Santana, Angel, Destini and Raymon. Armijo, with tears in his eyes, talked about Santos and Santana, his two oldest children, who passed away within a year of each other: Santos, in 2006, while serving in the military; and Santana, in 2007, the victim of a homicide.
Like his brother Santos, and like his father, Angel's life has taken him to the military. Armijo says that Destini is following in her mother's footsteps. And Raymon "wants to be just like me," Armijo said.
"My dad instilled in me his work ethic," Armijo says, "to work until you can't work no more, and hopefully your health will let you enjoy your golden years."