January 8, 2010

Don’t automatically say but…

Posted in Between Us column, Business, Diversity, Relationships at 5:35 pm by dinaheng

If you’re a workaholic like me, you tend to put work first, second and third when deadlines loom, and sometimes when they don’t. Over the last three weeks, I consciously put work last, and family and friends first. Here are a couple of memories that stand out…

The family was relaxing after opening presents on Christmas Day when one of my sisters shared a story about her son.

Like many little boys, my six-year-old nephew Max was taught never to get into fights at school. When the inevitable bullies kept picking on him, he found a way to relieve his anger without picking a fight.

One night, he asked his dad, who’s versed in Chinese, “How do you say butt boy in Chinese?”

“See hoon doy,” his dad answered.

Now, whenever a bully taunts Max, he gleefully says, “See hoon doy!” His classmates have no idea what he’s saying, and Max walks away, having gotten the last word after all.

Not bad for a six-year-old.

Dealing with bullies at any stage of life is hard. You have to acknowledge your feelings, and do something to put the other in their place, without putting them down.

Dealing with a down economy when you’re the only source of income for yourself is hard, too. No matter what economists say, the job market is still tight, and everyone has been affected in some way.

My friend Joan and I were supposed to catch up with a New Year’s phone call last weekend. Before we could set a time to talk, she sent me an e-mail saying she’d suffered an unexpected job loss and was going to unplug from the world for a couple of days to meditate on what to do.

She unplugged her phone and Internet access, and sat at home in silence, reaching within for answers. Several days afterward, we finally connected, and she shared her dilemma. A part-time job that she’d held for some time was about to end next week. Without that income, she would be unable to pay her mortgage.

We brainstormed ideas, interspersed with jokes about movies we’d seen for a little levity. As single women, we both know that the only source of income we have is what we make for ourselves. She assured me that a miracle would occur, and she’d find a way to make that mortgage payment.

After hanging up, I started looking through job listings on the Internet, and began sending her links to check out. A half hour later, I checked my phone messages and heard her voice.

“Just wanted to let you know that my employer just called and asked me to stay on for another two weeks,” Joan said, happily. “With that extra money, I’ll be able to pay the mortgage next month. And I know I’ll find another job before March.”

So miracles do happen.  We just have to keep believing in the best, and work to make it so. The economy will get better this year.

For any Scrooge who doesn’t think so, I have just three words… See hoon doy!

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