Best Education



QIANG failed the college entrance examination. He followed a kinsman, whom he called Brother, to a harbor city to earn a living.


It was such a beautiful city that Qiang couldn’t help but gawk at the sights. “Not bad, right?” asked Brother.


“Not bad,” said Qiang.


“Not bad,” Brother said, “but it’s not our home after all. We’re no big deal in these people’s eyes.”


“That’s fine. I will see myself as a big deal,” Qiang replied.


They sewed tarpaulins for a warehouse at the dock. Qiang was very capable and did a good job. He never threw away the leftover bits and pieces. He would save them for later use.


A raging storm struck the city one night. Qiang got up and charged into the rain. Brother couldn’t stop him. He called him an idiot.


Out in the open storage area, Qiang checked the piles of cargo one after another to make sure the tarpaulins had worked. When the boss came, Qiang looked like he had been for a swim. The boss found that everything was OK and wanted to raise his wage. But Qiang refused: “I just wanted to see if my tarpaulins worked.”


The boss admired Qiang’s honesty, and surprised him by offering him a position managing another company. “I can’t do that,” Qiang said, “ask someone with a better education.”


“I believe in you,” said the boss, “you have something special, even better than a good education.”


Qiang became a manager.


Upon opening, the new company needed a young sales team, so Qiang set about advertising the vacancies. Brother saw the ad and went to see Qiang. “Give me a good job,” he pleaded.


“I can’t.”


“Not even as a security guard?”


“No,” Qiang said, “you will not take the company as your own home.”


“You’re heartless,” Brother said, flushing.


“Doing my job,” Qiang replied, “that’s not heartless.”


Several young college graduates were employed, and the business thrived. After a while, however, they heard about their boss’ background. “Why should we college graduates listen to his orders?” they whispered.


But Qiang wasn’t annoyed: “We work as a team and do our best. This manager’s hat fits anyone who wants it, but the hat is not what really matters.”


The college graduates looked at each other, speechless.


A foreign businessman wanted to cooperate with Qiang’s company. Qiang’s assistant reminded him that this was a big fish and so the company should treat the guest well.


Qiang nodded.


The foreign businessman came in, followed by an interpreter and a secretary. He was an overseas Chinese.


“Do you speak Chinese, Sir?” Qiang asked in English.


“Yes,” said the businessman, with a hint of surprise.


“Can we talk in our mother tongue?” Qiang asked.


The businessman agreed. After their meeting, Qiang invited him to dinner. He hesitated, then nodded.


The dinner was simple. All dishes were devoured except for two stuffed buns that Qiang asked a waitress to package up to take away. He had asked that in a very natural way, but his assistant couldn’t help but peeking at their client nervously for his reaction.


The businessman stood up and shook Qiang’s hand. “OK,” he said, “we will sign the contract tomorrow!”


After the deal was clinched, Qiang’s boss held a banquet for the foreign businessman. Qiang and his assistant were also present.


During the meal, the businessman asked Qiang: “What education did you receive? How are you doing such a good job?”


“My family was very poor,” Qiang recalled, “my parents couldn’t read or write. Their education for me started from a grain of rice and a string of thread. My father passed away very young, so it was my mother who worked hard alone to support my education. She told me, I don’t expect you to become a big fish, but do your best in whatever job you get.”


The businessman’s eyes glistened. He raised his glass: “I suppose we should toast your mother – she gave you the best education in the world. Let your mother join you in the city.”