23 September 2009

Mr. Wu and the Aura of Peace

I met Mr. Wu one month ago, and noticed first his hair. It was short, except for a long, more than a foot long, section in the middle of his back--the kind of section that most elderly asian men would braid, but Mr. Wu left it loose. When I met him, he bowed (lowering his stature from five feet to four), and smiled, and in a thick accent said, "Hello! You are Anna?"

Mr. Wu makes a phone call once a week to a bank somewhere that he believes has cheated him and refused to give him money that he has earned. I don't know the details, but I do know that Mr. Wu treats this banker (and each one that answers when he calls) with the utmost respect and courtesy. He sits at the phone, frustrated out of his socks, and utters "please"s and "thank you"s with his perfectly and calmly cadenced speech. Every time he gets off the phone, I ask him what happened. Each time he says "Not yet, Anna. Thank you Anna. Thank you very kindly, Anna."

I have seen him in the dining room every morning I have come in this month, and he greets me as if he has invited me over for dinner at his house. Everything within a foot radius of this man moves more slowly, sits contentedly, relaxes, at peace. Including me.

Two days ago, Mr. Wu walked softly up to me and asked to speak to me in my office. "Call to the bank?" I asked.

"No, Anna. I recieved a... you call it 'odd-job' today. And I wanted to donate this to you, to Degage, for the loving kindness I have been shown. For the time you allow me on the phone. Thank you. Thank you very kindly."

I know that they say you can buy abstract nouns... you know, happiness, courage, organizational skills... but my hope is that Mr. Wu's $20 bill will somehow bring someone peace.


  1. This story about Mr. Wu has brought a little bit of peace to my office here in Minneapolis. (PS. You are such a talented writer.)

  2. I cannot explain why, but the story of Mr. Wu made me cry. (This was not intended to be a poem.)