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Pay It Forward

May 25, 2009

One of the main reasons for the recent economic downturn is greed.  Oh yes, it’s also our trust that institution will regulate itself.  Who would’ve thought that CitiBANK will be a thief when left alone to regulate itself, whether it’s subprime mortgage, or credit cards, or simply approving car loans?  But this crisis has taught us a new lesson:  big institutions need to be monitored too.

With this problem, and the sky-rocketing inflation and gas prices in the US, we still do things that don’t add up.  Here’re a few examples:

Donated one TV to a friend

SanyoVizon

This is our smaller TV of the two we had.  The other bigger one is given to a friend who lived a mile away.  It’s not like they have no TV, they have more than we do.  But their bigger TV in the living room broke down and the financial squeeze is not allowing them to buy another one to replace it.  So we donated ours.  And as a consequence, we now have only the 19 inch SANYO ViZon which is approximately the size of a typical computer monitor.  Our lives did not change very much.  We continue to exercise everyday, home school our child and she gets an hour of PBS-WQLN every morning or afternoon.  And since our time on the TV is so low, we don’t even notice our bedroom has no TV.

Ask a friend to cut my hair

 

Cutting my hair costs only $7 at Marion and only takes 10 minutes or less.  Most barbers who join the Union will charge $12 or more.  So to save some money, I took the trouble to borrow a hair clipper from Dr. Su Meng so that my wife’s friend who lived in Youngsville can cut for us.  (My wife tried cutting my hair while we were living in Mankato but she took on the average one and a half hour.  And the itch I had to suffer for that hour and a half is unbearable.)  Youngsville is about an hour away by driving.  But to show our appreciation, we’ve decided to drive her to Buffalo have a good time then return to her house to cut my hair.  After reaching Youngsville, we waited and chat a while before heading to Buffalo which is about 100miles away.  At Buffalo we drove to two Asian groceries and settled in Gin-gin restaurant.  The food was pretty expensive and we ended up spending about $100 for lunch and dinner.  Normally we only spend half of that but we’ve decided to give our friend a treat.  So you see, the plan is to save $7 on haircut, but we ended up fifty dollars poorer.  And an extra 200 miles of driving.  And paid toll on NY I-90 freeway.  I probably will not cut my hair this way again because I don’t really like the traffic jam at Buffalo at 6PM and I don’t like long driving.  Plus we got lost for about 10 minutes in Jamestown NY when the GPS mislead us. But surprisingly, we (especially I) were able to take all these lightly and even thought it’s the right thing we have done.  This friend’s husband used to be my Calculus student but today he’s an army medical doctor.  He will graduate with a D.O. end of this month in Philadelphia and then move to Hawaii.  During his eight years of studies, our friend lived in a very difficult life and had never gone home to Indonesia because of that (I forgot to mention she’s Indonesian and her husband is a “Honky” — has nothing to do with Hong Kong). 

Numbers don’t add up

So the numbers don’t seem to add up.  But we’re still very happy at what we do.  One doesn’t get happier because one has a more cash in one’s life.  And what really make sense is not really in the “cents” all the time.  It seems that the two things we did above (and dozen other more we’ve done) don’t seem to benefit us in any bit.  Our life did not change a single bit.  It’s like:

       “Why would you exercise, if you found out exercise does not improve your health or your looks?”

But our gut feelings tell us it’s the right thing to do.  It makes our friends happier.  And that’s it!  That’s all.  We try as much as we can to return what was given to us if anyone offer to help us.  Every time our friend who had our TV helped us (like mow our lawn while we were away or fix our kitchen faucet) we would go all out to buy a lot of food, take time to cook and have a party with them.  Or give them a treat at a Buffalo Wings place (the husband absolutely loves that).  In the end, the money don’t add up.  It’ll be cheaper to pay a professional!  But that’s us.  While we’re not poor, we repay everyone.  And whenever we could, we help them and expect nothing in return.  We know they’re happier.  And that’s what really matters.  Like Bhutan, we do not measure GNP (or GDP), we try to increase GNH.  Something Singapore can learn from Bhutan.

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One Comment
  1. Vicky permalink

    One suggestion is to my a Phillips Clipper and cut your hair yourself, like Frank (Ade\’s) does in Germany. It cuts the hair all at the same length. In the Singapore Phillips showroom, they even show you how to do it yourself. Unfortunately for the males in my family, they would rather go to a salon.Andreas is shaving his head soon for the CCF, and he\’s keeping his precious hair until then. So he\’ll save many months of haircut fees. Glad he\’ll paying forward in his own way too!

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