The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


Dad had a mild heart attack one year.  It was the fall.  After a few days in the hospital he came home and had to take it easy for a week.  (Taking it easy wasn’t in his vocabulary and I suspect this week “off” caused him more anxiety than if his doctor had allowed him to return immediately to work).

We were all very concerned, of course, but dad bounced back and soon resumed his normal energetic pace.  This concerned my mother who, rather than letting him go on his six week spring buying trip to the Orient alone, decided that she was going to accompany him to make sure he didn’t over-do it.

The majority of dad’s time during these trips was spent in Japan.  My mom was moderately conversant in Japanese.  She had a dear friend who was Japanese and she practiced her language skills with this lady several times a week.  But mom revved up her efforts.  She enrolled in a Japanese III  class that “The New School” offered.

Six months later my parents went on their trip and mom played mother hen to dad.

While they were gone, I received a letter from mom.  They were at what she described as a “native inn” during their six day stay in Kyoto.  That is to say, their bedding was on futons rather than on traditional western-style beds.  She described the inn as “so clean you could literally eat off the floor.”

She had a bad headache the third day in the city and returned to their hotel early.  As it happened, when she got to their room it was being cleaned.  The cleaning lady tried to excuse herself and said that she would come back later to finish – but mom insisted that she continue her work and not worry that she was there.

Then the two of them chatted.

Mom praised the lady for “doing such an incredibly beautiful job.”  The woman bashfully thanked her and, as mom told the story, bowed in deference a number of times.

Mom said to the cleaning lady, “You know – you are so good at what you do.  I am sure many companies would want to hire someone with your diligence.  Have you ever considered trying to find another position that would pay you more money?”

This lady responded, “For the past eight months I have been working at night as an apprentice watchmaker.  After another four months as an apprentice, the Seiko Watch Company will make me a full-time watchmaker.  Then I will make three times as much as I now earn.”

Mom smiled and said, “I am sure that you are looking forward to that.”

The lady responded emphatically, “Oh, yes!”   Then a very serious look came over her face and she said, “But in the meantime, I will be the best cleaning lady that I can be.”




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: