America Through My Eyes
Aanika I., 27
University Student Services Professional
San Diego, California
Last month, I received my first paycheck from my first “big kid job” of my life. It was depressing. I wondered how I was supposed to live for the rest of the month on that amount.
In my head, I had always imagined this moment would be a joyous occasion, where I would buy little gifts for my loved ones. Instead I went around using the wailing emoji while messaging my friends and family to say that my chosen profession was clearly for rich people and not for young professionals with enormous student loans.
Then at the end of the day, I received a wake-up call from the most unexpected individual.
I had always said hello when I saw the custodian who came to my office at the end of the day. But that day he asked me my name and I realized I had never introduced myself before. He said it was a pleasure meeting me. We got to talking and I learned a little about him.
He grew up in Indiana, a middle child among six kids. His mom was a homemaker taking care of six children while his dad drove taxis for a living. His dad even met Michael Jackson once!
He has two adult children and got married for the first time when he was serving in the Navy. He has also been to Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia, Kenya, and the Philippines.
We jumped topics and discussed various things. At times he shocked me with his humbleness and bluntness, while at other times he made me burst out laughing. The most surprising thing he said was, “I'm 61 years old and almost legally blind. If I hadn't talked to you and shaken your hand, I may not have remembered who you were.”
He also discussed housing rents being high in California so I told him how depressed I had felt earlier that day. He told me that things will be okay and I'll make it. To not worry. To shop at the dollar store. To make myself sandwiches and drink green tea. That we are all getting a $50 raise next month (we both laughed knowing it's not much but we will take it) and I just have to weather the storm. He mentioned that one time he got a paycheck and he only had $100 to live on for the rest of the month. But he is alive now.
He left with
a smile telling me, “Welcome to California. You're going to make
trying my best to have a better attitude. I have so much to learn
from him and can't thank him enough for throwing me out of my own
pity party. For making me look at my life from a different
perspective and making me believe I could possibly be capable of
surviving on my own.
Add links to landing page to post:
For more stories like this, visit: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/education-culture/xin-jiao-liu-magazine/every-day-americans/