I could have written many stories “starring” Manuel (Manny) Correia who served 32 years at the Optical Sciences Center from 1965 to 1997. But my favorite involves then-senior lab coordinator Mike Nofziger in the mid-1990s.
The center relied on Manny daily to lend a hand with virtually every conceivable project. His energy, enthusiasm and ready smile were legendary, as was his refusal to say “no” to any task asked of him. Mike described Manny’s work ethic to me as “one of tireless dedication, ambition, motivation, and perseverance. And”, he said, “when that wasn’t enough to get the job done, [Manny] resorted to a simpler approach — he would roll up his sleeves and, as the slogan goes, ‘just do it.’”
The following anecdote highlights that “just do it” approach.
Mike happened to be walking down the hallway by OSC’s back door when in came Manny from the loading dock, obviously very annoyed and agitated. Not a normal attitude for him, according to Mike.
Mike: What’s wrong?
Manny: Someone is parked in my space again!
Mike: Perhaps I could help you find the owner of the car.
Manny: Nawwwww, I’m just gonna go move it!
Well, Mike had witnessed Manny move many things around OSC including desks, filing cabinets and optical tables, usually unassisted. His moving a car without keys, though, would be a first — and a show Mike did not want to miss. So Mike followed Manny out into what is now fondly known as “Manny’s Yard.”
Manny marched over to an aging forklift, hopped on and started it up. He drove over to the car, placed the forks underneath its chassis and lifted it off the ground. The poor old forklift “huffed and puffed” as it strained under the weight. But that wasn’t about to stop Manny. He drove out the gates and set the car down behind the building by the garbage dumpsters. Mike couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed.
But, it wasn’t an “optical” illusion, as confirmed a few years later during a conversation between Mike and a new OSC employee whose previous appointment had been with UA Parking & Transportation Services.
Mike: So, I bet you have some interesting stories from working over in Parking & Transportation?
New Employee: You wouldn’t believe the things students would tell us to get out of paying a parking ticket. The best excuse I ever heard, ironically enough, happened to involve OSC.
Mike: Really, what’s that?
New Employee: Well, PTS had issued some student a citation for blocking the dumpsters behind OSC. Upon returning to his car, he promptly drove over to our office to try to talk us into waiving the fine by saying that he had not parked by the dumpsters. Someone had obviously moved his car. Of course he was then asked if he had left the keys in the car, to which he replied, “No.” Can you believe that?
Mike: Wow. No … not at all. Sorry, gotta go.
So, if you happen to be the student in question, you may now have proof for a refund. Wonder if you could ask for 20 years of interest?