One-Time Chicago Paper Boy Still Riding High Above Wilshire Blvd.

In the spring of 2006, Liz Arnold penned a fun piece for LA Weekly about Ruben Pardo, the unassuming elevator operator at a mid-Wilshire Art Deco office building. This weekend, 69-year-old Pardo is once again in the media spotlight thanks to a much longer LA Times “Page One” profile.

While the names and businesses of the tenants he caters to have tilted in favor of online media, the rest of the details remain virtually unchanged. Pardo is still humble; he stands-sits as one the city’s last manual elevator operators; and he shows no signs of wanting to retire.

There is also a very cool multimedia sidebar put together by Bryan Chan. As a lesson to all you job seekers out there, Pardo confesses that he gladly worked for free his first three days in 1976 at the 11-story building to prove his elevator mettle. When his initial paycheck arrived, the building owners had paid him in full, at double the expected rate.

An LA Weekly detail echoed in Nita Lelyveld’s lovely LA Times revisit is the fact that Pardo started out in the print newspaper business. “I was a paper boy [on the south side of Chicago], and I used to read the headlines: ‘Extra! Extra! Read all about it!’” he told Arnold. “I did so well that I made more in tips than the paper cost.”

Meanwhile, although Lelyveld mentions Pardo’s crazy commute from El Sereno, an additional element that she had to cut out definitely bears repeating here. Pardo’s daily three-bus, one-subway train trip to 5514 Wilshire Blvd. takes him on average an hour in the morning and another hour and a half at night! (E.g., probably a little longer than when Arnold wrote about him.)

[Photo taken from Chan’s photo-video montage]