As a teenager he joined a group of mostly Mexican-American workers going out to harvest that year's strawberry crop. Since Takei spoke fluent Spanish, many people mistook him for "a suntanned, Spanish-speaking non-Japanese of some kind." Consequently, he overheard the Japanese-American paymasters in charge of the project talking about how they were planning to shortchange the Mexican laborers. He proceeded to bust out his fluent Japanese, told them off, and threatened to go to the authorities if they didn't pay the workers fairly. It worked, and the paymasters caved. To a teenager.