Apr 13

Day 11 of Positive Impacts- Some Korean Family in LA

I was watching early morning Sunday TV, one of those new programs. It was the mid-1980s, and I was living in California. At this point in my life, I knew one Korean Family, and their last name was Holoboski, so we can guess they were not fully Korean.  They did a full Korean cousin living with them, but for the most part, it was a typical Polish Catholic family with a Korean mom.  In some ways, the family pre-saged the Nguyen Family represented on Bojack Horseman. This is not, however, their story.

This is the story of the family I watched on that day. They were living in a two bedroom apartment with a large number of relatives crammed into the room. They were, they said, in america to become part of America and to share in the riches of America. They were not going to stop working until they had the lifestyle they wanted, and they weren’t going to spend their money until they could buy what they truly wanted…an upper middle-class lifestyle.

They all worked ridiculously long hours, pooled their money for the common good, were frugal if not parsimonious, and counted every day a chance to learn more, work harder, earn more.  In some ways they may have been held up as a stereotype of the driven Asian pushing forward to goals, lead by a tiger mom, longing for an absentee father. But, their eyes told of both their sincerity and the reason for their commitment.

They all fondly remembered and respected Korea, and their heritage.  They were not ashamed of who they are, what they were doing, or why they were doing it. They had focus on their goals, and had internalized them.

Years later, I was left in a horrific situation. I had spent Christmas time recovering from a surgery. I had no job, my then wife had no job. I was barely able to walk again, and only with a walker. In January I was looking for any job…ANY job, that didn’t require me to stand up or walk. I found two.  I was a web-author (the hip term that year) for a large computer hardware firm, and I was a technical support analyst for a long-distance provider for 30 hours a week during evening.  I was working more than 70 hours a week, getting around with a walker. I was in pain nearly every day. Nearly all of every day. But, I did it.

I did it because I was born into a land of great opportunity that others travel across oceans to find. I wouldn’t take that for granted. I did it because I could work 70 hours a week because I had nothing else to do besides love my children enough to keep a roof over their heads.  I did it because I had watched that Korean family do it over 10 years before on a sunny weekend morning when I was living on the east coast.

If that is not a positive influence…I don’t know what it.

Do things because you can. Do them because they are right.




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