A lesson from a Chinese kitchen worker

Guy AllonUncategorizedLeave a Comment


A couple of weeks ago I felt the need for some western food while working in Beijing.

Not that I have anything against Chinese food but after eating it on a daily basis i was eager for something less oily and slightly more nutritious so I ventured to Sanlitun, known for it’s eclectic cuisine, and visited the Bite-a-Pita joint which I tend to frequent whenever i’m in Beijing since they serve middle eastern food which I adore.

The place was relatively quite since it was a Sunday evening and I sat myself at a table near enough to the kitchen window from where the food was being served.

After putting in my order with the waitress I waited patiently for my humus and falafel to arrive when all the while I could hear someone from the kitchen reciting certain words in english over and over again.

Being the curious individual that I am I raised my head slightly to see into the kitchen who it was that was so eager in enunciating the word ‘Secretary’ so well and eventually I could make out a Chinese guy repeating the word over and over again in a fairly audible voice so that the few customers who were at the joint could hear him.

I found it amusing that such an individual would be studying a language while at work so I decided to engage in conversation with him while still ploughing into my humous with my pita bread.

The guy seemed to have difficulty pronouncing the word so I told him exactly how to say it since he kept neglecting to utter the middle R in SecRetary. I told him to role his tongue when saying the word and to repeat it slower rather than faster. He seemed pleased and taken by my assistance and I got into a further conversation with him regarding his english studies.

He showed me a thick book which he’s learning from and explained to me that he wants to improve his english so that he can get better work and earn a higher wage since apparently if you speak English as a second language you can earn better money in Beijing. I asked him if it was okay for him to learn english while at work and he said that since it gets pretty quiet at certain periods its okay and that the boss doesn’t resent him learning while on the job.

I went on to tell him that he’s making great use of his time and not squandering it on petty texting or surfing the net on his mobile phone. He appreciated my remark while I sat back down to finish off my humous and falafel and headed out of the restaurant.

The moral of this story?

Make the most of your time.

I was told once that we can either work, invest or waste our time. 1431354194314

Yes, we are all guilty of wasting our time at certain points of the day, whether its listening to too much music, surfing the net for mindless fun, or texting others just for the hell of it. We are all guilty of time wastage.

The young Chinese guy made good use of his time by not squandering it and being idle. He had an ambition to achieve something in life and he was going to work hard for it no matter what the cost, even if it meant investing some of his time during work in learning english.

The excuse of ‘I don’t have enough time’ is irrelevant in this day and age.

if you want to exceed at something then you have to find the time to work at it even if its in between your work shifts, meetings, cooking or even having that toilet break (Yes, I’m not kidding. I make use of my time on the loo while having a number 2).

even if it’s just 5-10 minutes a day, the act of doing what’s necessary and practicing your passion is a requisite that will not go unnoticed. just like a muscle that you’re exercising there’s the need to do it on a daily and constant basis.

Be that Chinese dude in the kitchen who uttered those words with confidence and excitement. Go out of your way to learn another monologue, write a short story, film something relevant to your project but just do something which isn’t idle. In order to stand out from the crowd we all require to put that little more effort and sticking to the fundamentals of either reading, writing, filming or practicing our craft as much as we can, wherever we can, and how often as we can.

And, the next time you come up with the excuse of not having enough time think back to that Chinese kitchen porter I met at that restaurant and ask yourself if he can practice his english in between preparation of food, in a kitchen, what’s stopping me from practicing what I need to do in my life?

Food for thought 😉

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