This story is about Wai and I talked about him in a previous post. He has two little stores and works seven days a week and more than ten hours every day. However right now the business is down due to pandemic and he went to Texas to help his cousin to repair his house, which was damaged in the ice storm about two months ago. So far he has got his vaccine shots and is scheduled to come back to New Jersey next week. Wai is a character and I think I can almost write a book about him except that I haven’t decided how to describe his characteristics–all I can say is he fascinates me. He is often in difficulty, but always optimistic; he has never allowed himself luxury, but he always dreams of one day he will enjoy luxury. He doesn’t speak much English, but he never hires a manager for his stores. He handles everything himself and he never believes language ability has anything to do with business operation, despite ample evidence to the contrary. I think as soon as I can extract a theme somewhere, I can write a beautiful story. Here is a little flash story about him and his longevity. Wai is talking with his friend Mu as they are doing house repair for Wai’s cousin.
Wai: “I am thinking of retiring at 65 and go back to Khalkhin Gol to have a wonderful retirement life. I am saving every penny I have right now just for my retirement and I don’t intend to delay my retirement for one minute. I want to live like a river king. Haha.”
Khalkhin Gol is at the border between Mongolia, China and Russia, where a famous battle was once fought during the WWII.
Mu: “If the real estate is not expensive, you can certainly settle down in your village and have a life of leisure and enjoyment. Did you watch the news last night? About this 109-year-old Japanese lady holding the Olympic torch. I wonder if I can live that long. Longevity doesn’t run in my family.”
Wai: “But longevity runs in my family. My father is almost 90 years old and still kicking. “
Mu: “If that’s the case, you’d better save enough for 30 years or more. I can see you live until 95 or even 100.”
Wai: “Oh, my goodness. That’s terrible.”
Mu: “What? What is terrible?”
Wai: “I don’t think I have enough for 30 years. I mean 30 years is a long time, isn’t it? There’s also the inflation. How can I be sure it’s enough? Am I going to work forever?” Wai sits on the floor, frustrated.
Mu: “Oh, come on, stop being so hard on yourself. Let’s live our life today and leave tomorrow alone, shall we?”
Wai: “I had a beautiful retirement all planned out already. Now you just ruined it. Do you know retirement is all I am looking forward to? Just think of the drudgery of running two stores day after day, most of your waking hours? All those small trivial issues to take care of, all those complaints to smooth over, all those language problems I have to hustle to get resolved. I am tired of it all, but I keep on going because I dream of retirement. I won’t be able to take it if I have to do it one day more than my 65 birthday. How can you take my retirement away from me like that? You just want to annoy me, don’t you?”
Mu: “Don’t be melodramatic. Let’s just be cheerful. I am sorry I mentioned it. I will stop watching those centenarians on satellite TV. Look we have to finish painting this room today.”
Wai: “I can’t take it. I can’t take it anymore. This is more than I can handle.”
Mu: “OK. Let’s have a rest and relax a little bit first. How about we drive to Galveston beach tomorrow to relax and get our mind off stressful things? People told me a spot where we can get fresh shrimp right off the boat.”