A Cuban-born UPS driver recently went viral after his wife filmed him excitedly opening his first paycheck in the United States. The man, Yoel Diaz, said that he was so excited because when he lived under communist rule in Cuba, he could barely fill his refrigerator.
Sometimes he would only have a couple of things in it: “Water, water, water, five, ten eggs, water.”
In the video posted to social media, Diaz asks his wife to film him opening his paycheck. He takes it out of his pocket, opens it and yells with excitement.
His wife – Marissa Diaz – asks him how much has been taken out in taxes. Diaz pauses for a moment, takes a deep breath while looking at the amount, and then says, “I prefer this than Fidel Castro. Fidel took more. Communism took more.”
“You know what, this is my first hourly paycheck,” Diaz says. “That I feel every hour counted. That every hour has an importance in my life. And I know I can work hard for something.
“This is an emotion that I can’t compare with anything. Because I never had it in my country. In Cuba that emotion doesn’t exist.”
Marissa Diaz wrote on Instagram that this is a part of their “American dream!”
“There are no words to describe how proud I am of your courage to enter a country and a culture that is not yours,” she wrote to her husband. “A little bit at a time, with hard work and dedication anything is possible in this country. We pray one day Cubans and others under dictatorships will feel the same.”
CBS News reports that Diaz came to the United States in 2021. Prior to that, he was a computer science teacher in Cuba.
Diaz came with his wife to America on a K-1 visa. He then got a work permit, and applied for and accepted a job at UPS, which he started in late October.
After the video of him opening his first paycheck when viral (it’s received over 300,000 likes), the CEO of UPS sent him a letter and a care box. “This story really warms our hearts, and we are happy to have Yoel on our team,” a UPS spokesperson said.
Diaz told CBS News that he’s still thinking of those in his home country, who don’t have what he has now.
“I never had this much money in my hands from my effort, from my sweat, and it hurts that millions in my country and other countries can’t have that,” he said. “And being here, you can get it in a dignified manner.”
Most hardworking Americans don’t live to work, even if they enjoy what they do. They work so they can live, buy groceries, pay rent and afford all the other expensive things that life necessitates.
But work is valuable in its own right. Indeed, Scripture has much to say about the importance and virtue of hard work.
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat … Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12 ESV).
In addition, Scripture provides even harsher words for those who are the heads of household and fail to provide for the members of their family.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV).
Americans who work fulltime jobs, and have for years, can get caught up in the routine and repetitiveness of showing up for work. Working can quickly become a source of complaint – something to moan and groan about.
But we’re reminded, thanks to Yoel, that there is something much worse than working: Not working – or wanting to work and being unable to.
Congratulations to Yoel for gaining his job to provide for his family, for coming to the United States, and to UPS for gaining a good employee.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11 ESV).
Photo from Instagram.