It can be said that “Chupi” Garcia’s love for the New York Red Bulls has the same age as Red Bull Arena. Garcia, who’s an aircraft mechanic for FedEx, remembers that first MLS game against Chicago Fire at RBA with lots of affection.
“It was the first game when we played the Chicago Fire,” said Garcia. “We had come for a friend’s birthday, you know, I bought tickets. It was actually my first live soccer game, and we were there, and we were sitting midfield in the second deck. I looked over to the left, and I saw the South Ward. And I saw everybody having a good time. I saw flags, and I saw everything going on.
“And I said, 'You know what, that has me written all over it.' Next thing you know, you guys had information about the supporters clubs. I joined one, and that was the start of it all. Next thing you know, a year later, well not even a year later, the Viking Army started. It was that first game, seeing all the excitement, hearing the people singing, seeing all the people having fun and that was it.”
During the last months, Chupi’s schedule didn’t change that much. He kept a routine that only saw changes with his start times at his essential job.
“Of course, pretty much, we were in lockdown, so it was like everybody else. Stay at home, only go out for essential stuff, and the way we were able to see relatives and friends was through Zoom parties and stuff like that,” he said. “Professional-wise, it really didn't change much because I was essential. The only thing different was start times and stuff like that. I take pride in everything that I do. I continued to go to work in order to make sure that other people got the stuff that they needed, continue the chain forward. I gave up some of my safety in order to make sure that all the people got the stuff that they needed.”
The other day Chupi saw a meme that got his attention.
“I saw a meme or whatever they call it, on one of the social medias, and it was like, ‘Oh, look, it's the adult ice cream truck!’ And what it was, it was a UPS guy, a FedEx guy and Amazon, you know, because everybody's on lockdown, you couldn't go outside, you couldn't go buy anything, so you were ordering everything online,” he described. “So you’ll remember when you were a little kid and you heard the ice cream truck and you're running outside, so now you were standing by the window, waiting for the FedEx guy, the UPS guy, the Amazon guy to bring your stuff. That's how I feel, at least I'm part of this process of bringing stuff that people need. Stuff that will make people happy, that makes their lives better, while we were all on this crazy lockdown.”
He’s enjoyed the amount of thank yous he’s received in the last weeks.
“When I would wear my uniform, you would get more recognition because people would say thank you. They were thanking the FedEx guys because they're out there. They thought I was doing deliveries, but, you know, I feel that I'm a piece in the puzzle to complete the circle of everything that made everything work,” said Chupi. “Let's put it this way, people were definitely happy to see you, and it was cool for random people to tell you thank you for what you're doing.”
Chupi believes that his love for the game and the Red Bulls has been influenced by his wife.
“You see soccer, you see whatever sport on TV, you know, and you also have the chance to see a couple of World Cup games, but you know my wife, she’s Peruvian and of course, in South America, people live, breathe, eat soccer, that's how she was so influential,” he said. “When I came to the first game, she was with me and then it just became passion, and she kept feeding my passion and she's like, ‘Yo, let's go to these USA games!’ We’ve gone to a bunch of international games, and we've gone to a whole bunch of Peru games. And poquito a poquito, I just fell in love and understood why it’s the number one game in the world because it brings out the passion in you, it’s so much fun. It’s just, you know, wow.”
After the times we’ve lived, Chupi feels that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We need to learn how to appreciate life because it’s “very precious,” he says.
“Don't take anything for granted. Life is very precious,” said Chupi. “At the end of the day, life is very precious and you should never take anything for granted. If you have issues with people, in the big scheme of things, get those problems fixed. Apologize, tell people that you know that you love them. You just never know what tomorrow will bring, you know, they were people that were totally healthy, and they're not around anymore. If anybody gets anything out of what's going on, is that life is precious and nothing should be taken for granted. Tomorrow is not promised.”