Flipping through pages hastily, I nodded my head to my favorite Taylor Swift song that blasted into my ears. Behind me, I felt a large stature overshadowing me as I made bold, red circles on white printed-paper. His stone-cold eyes gazed over me with disapproval and critique, as he firmly tapped my shoulders with his fingers. Turning around, I saw his light blue, crisp shirt that fits with his large stature in a way that suits how a businessman would dress. Despite a few strands of white hair that contrasted against his natural black hair, his face still contained the vitality and curiosity of a boy’s.Order now
In his austere and apathetic voice that sounded like a parent scolding a child, he said to me, “Frank! What are you doing? Do you realize that you are at work and your loud music is becoming a distraction to everyone around you? Unaware of the gravity of this situation, I replied in a lighthearted manner, “I will lower it. Upon hearing my comment and my attempt to dismiss his authority, the face that once belonged to a young, carefree boy aged instantly into one of a stern, old man’s. He threatened, “Turn it off, now. His laconic response combined with his caustic tone made me realize how serious he was; in response, I obeyed his decree and went back to working.
I work in a tutoring school where the teachers prepare high school students for the SAT, ACT, and SAT II tests, hoping that they may all get into good colleges and become successful. It was all for a good cause; except that it puts the burden on Grace, my co-worker, and me to grade a hundred copies of the same homework and quizzes. I sat on a gray chair with a back support that prevented me from lying down and falling asleep from this tedious, repetitive job.
Grace and I have to occasionally drink coffee that brings more than life into our monotonous mornings of paper grading. Our breath gave off a disgustingly warm coffee scent whenever we try to converse to each other to make our jobs more bearable. Working on a tough, edgy table, we would sometimes rest our heads on the hard surface and lament about what kind of great summer vacations we could have had. I would daydream about taking a trip to the Bahamas or a spiritual journey to India to find my guru, and she would say that she wanted to go sunbathing with her boyfriend.
But the conversations always ended in complaining about Mike and his stringent rules. Funny enough, Mike was not always like this. Just a week ago, on a hot sunny day where the sunlight induced so much heat onto the black cement that it could cause a serious burn if one were to place his bare flesh onto the floor, we were playing basketball at a local basketball court. Communicating through eye contacts and signaling each other with hand movements, we conspired our master plan to triumph over our opponents for the last point while they looked bewildered and unconscious of our scheme.
I held the ball tightly as I looked over to Mike who was already in position backing down on an opponent who was taller and stronger than he was. Mike struggled to remain in control, but there was something in his eyes that burned with a passion and confidence as he starred at me. It was like a brawl down in the paint, but I knew Mike had everything under control. When the ball left my hand, it hit the ground hard, creating a vibration that seems to echo across the whole court. Upon ascending, the ball reflected symmetrically off the ground and into Mike’s hands.
My opponent, who was guarding me, was unaware that the ball had left my hand until it was too late. Pivoting his left foot, he spun clockwise in attempt to guard Mike and prevent him from scoring. But it was too late. Using his legs to give the hot cement a push, Mike has already levitated off the ground with his defender under him. His arm created a perfect half-moon motion as the ball rolled off his fingers and into the air and in the basket. When Mike landed back on the ground, he gave me a convincing look as if he was saying ˜I told you so. ‘ Mike is one of the hardest working people I know.
He graduated from Cornell with a cum laude and was already on his way to work for Credit Suisse, a Wall Street job that offered a handsome pay and tuition for two years of graduate school in Baruch College. Upon graduating from Baruch College, he worked full time at Wall Street, earning more than an ample amount of money to supply his living in New York City. However, Mike did not stop there. When his contract expired, he started his own entrepreneurship, a tutoring school, and has been more successful than ever before. He wasn’t just a successful businessman, but also one of my closest friends.
He would always tell me ways to make money in this corporate world, convincing me to pursue a business major instead of an engineering one. Together we would always joke around and talk lightheartedly about the future of the economy and how to expand his business to an international level one-day, where I could easily get into a high position, under the right degrees, of course. Mike was someone I idolized; his voracity for control and capital has made him a distinguishable man. However, things took a wrong turn as I started to work for Mike.
The same man who was once my good friend is now my boss. And now he constantly scolds me for my lack of attentiveness during work and looks over my work as if he had no trust in me. The same, connected mentality that we had during our basketball was nowhere to be found. Mike could be really harsh during the job, demanding me to do this and that, while still offering me a minimum wage. He would often tell me to grade fifty copies of homework assignments and then give me a whole bunch of quizzes that the student just took. Everyday was a rush; I rarely had time to myself at work.
But later after work, he became the Mike I knew once again and he would persuade me with jubilant tone to play basketball or eat out with him. But one day as I was peering into his office, I saw how quietly and how diligently Mike was working. He wasn’t listening to music, and he wasn’t stopping every five minutes to take a coffee break or a walk to the water fountain. He was working attentively. Glued to the paper, his eyes would not blink until he reaches the end of the paragraph. His back, straight as a tower, did not even need the expensive back cushion that came with the chair.
Mumbling words as he reads what was in front of him with a pen in his right hand ready to underline or circle anything abstract or important to him, he separated himself from the rest of the world to do his work. In that way, he worked swiftly, tirelessly, and mindfully. It was the type of work ethic every college student needs. It was that moment that I saw my old friend Mike back at the basketball game again. He had the same expression as that day when he looked up to me for that pass. He was in the moment. He was serious. And he was confident; he was ready to not let anything get in his way of accomplishing what he has set out to do.