Other people's problems

5/29/2016 07:24:00 pm

Sure, I've got some problems at the moment. Just the general shit that goes along with separation and getting ready to move overseas, and health grumbling along, and some tension in the office.

A few weeks ago I was pointedly reminded that we all have problems and mine apparently aren't too bad. No one else's problems are ever as important as your own. Which, whatever, that's fine. We're all guilty of self-indulgence.

I should just suck it up and get on with it. That's sort of what I thought I'd been doing, but I guess not well enough. Maybe if I would stop waking up at 5am, and stop being anxious, and stop stop stop. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, a story: 

There is a nail place near my house, which I love and have been going to for years. When I first moved to the inner west, another lady owned it and she was pretty crap. It was run down and a bit dingy, but I went there because it was so convenient and I liked the staff because they were friendly and remembered my name (bane of my existence is that people never remember my name. I've been going to the same hairdresser for 6 years, and he does not remember my name. I stopped going to Swedish classes because the teacher was incapable of remembering my name). At some point, Thao bought the business, and the same staff continued, including her sister Tam.

These ladies work so hard, and have built up a great business with a heap of loyal regular customers. They work every single day of the week. Tam was still working a week before both her babies were born and she was back at work within about 6 weeks. 

I mentioned to them that I was going on holiday to Vietnam (I'm so predictable that the first question Tam asked when I sat down was 'where are you going?) and so we got to talking about their life before coming to Australia.

They grew up in a small village, and when they were little they their trip to school involved crossing a bridge made from tree logs. When it was wet, the logs were very slippery. When it was really wet, the logs were underwater, but they would still cross based on where they thought the bridge was. 

One day, crossing the wet bridge, Tam slipped and fell in the water. She couldn't swim. Thao jumped in after her and tried to keep her afloat, but Tam was too heavy and she went under the water, sinking to the bottom of the river bed. Thao screamed from the water, "Mummy! Mummy!!" Their father heard and came to the river. "Where is your sister?", he asked, and Thao pointed down. Their father pulled Tam from the water, but she had "a full belly of water." She was alright, but only just. 

Later, Thao related how they had to cross through a cemetery to get to school as well. Every day they would hold hands, squeeze their eyes shut, count to three, and run. They were scared of the people lying in the ground, but, she said, they should have been more scared of the river. 

At some point, the family sold their farm, but the man who bought it ran off with the money. They had nothing, and so moved to the city to live with a cousin. The cousin had three children in his one-bedroom house, and so the girls' family stayed in the living room. "We were so poor. We would look at people with food and cry because it smelled so good, but no one would look at us. No one wanted to see us."

And then, a stroke of miraculous luck: their mother won the lottery, and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the pie. "Those people, who would not look at us and would not help us, they wanted money. And if my mother gave them anything, they would say, 'it's not enough'."

As Thao was talking, Tam interjected, "I work 7 days per week. I don't care. Nothing can be as bad as our life then."

Other people's problems. Sometimes they really are more important than your own, or anyone else's. 

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1 comments on this post

  1. Silvia D. Schiros10:11 pm

    Wow. Thank you for that.


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