Pasco resident Diego Montes has never been to a professional football game. The diehard Seattle Seahawks fan has just never been able to make it all work.
So imagine his surprise when he walked into work after the National Football Conference Championship game to be told by his boss, Perfection Glass owner Shawn Linhoff, that not only was he going to his first game, but he was going to the Super Bowl on an all-expense paid trip.
"This is unreal right here," Montes said. "I told my wife to slap me in the face, I think I'm dreaming. This isn't real, man."
Montes flies to New York today and is set to come home Monday after the game.
"I've never been to New York," he said. "I've never been to a football game. I've been to a soccer game in Seattle and L.A. and look at this: I'm going to the Super Bowl where the Seahawks will be playing. This is unreal right here."
Linhoff got the idea after an innocent conversation a couple of months ago. Montes came in and asked his boss how much airfare to New York would cost, figuring if the Seahawks made the big game, he could at least be in the same city, even if he couldn't afford game tickets.
When the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers, Linhoff said to his wife that he wanted to make Montes' dream of going to New York a reality.
"I asked him that Monday (Jan. 20) if he was going to go, but he said it was too much money," Linhoff said. "My daughter, Taylor Miller, works for me, and I told her to get on this and find out how we can do it.
"I got caught up in the moment. I just made one of those quick decisions and I don't regret it. We bought him plane fare, hotel and ticket. We called and asked his wife for permission if he could go -- though we were prepared to override her if she said no.
"It is definitely one of the coolest things we've done. He is just ecstatic."
Montes has worked for Perfection Glass for 12 years and has been an exemplary employee, going the extra mile to make sure the job is done right.
"Diego is just one of those people you want to know and be around," Linhoff said. "We are pretty blessed to have him as an employee. I just adore the guy."
A good example of Montes' nature happened in December. Montes got a healthy bonus from work and rather than spend it on himself, he bought gifts for his extended family, including his parents, in-laws, nieces and nephews. He went out and bought a Santa suit and held a big party.
And he's not shy about showing his support for the Seahawks.
After they beat the 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl, Montes went to the Road 68 overpass at Interstate 182 in Pasco and waved his 12th Man flag, shouting, "Go Seahawks."
"Cars honking and everything," he said. "It was crazy. I was there for like an hour."
One of the people who saw him was a co-worker's wife.
"His wife called him and said, 'There is a crazy guy with a flag, screaming Seahawks, and I think it is Diego,' " Montes said with a chuckle. "My co-worker said, 'So, it was you!' 'Yeah, man, it was me.'
"I'm a big Seahawks fan. I have no words for this. This is like a dream."
For Linhoff it's a chance to reward an employee who has always done right by his company.
"I was a little fearful that other people would be mad," Linhoff said, "but nobody has said anything like that. He warrants it. He is just that guy, when you do good things it comes back to you.
"Diego has been doing good things for Perfection Glass, for his family, his community. He is a good guy."
-- Craig Craker: 582-1509; email@example.com; Twitter: @Craig_Craker