Be Kind To Yourself
Simple strategies for dealing with challenges
“Your meal, ma’am,” the elegant Asian waiter said as he placed the steaming plate of heavily spiced noodles in front of me.
I smiled. “Thanks, Guo.” Guo was the youngest son of the owner of The Peking Garden, a little Chinese restaurant near my office that I visited often. The food here was always wonderful, despite the modest charge. I knew Guo well, and his mock formality was part of the banter we went through each time.
I picked up my fork. Despite repeated attempts, I could never get the hang of chopsticks. Guo laughed, “Jeez Nat, are you ever going to figure out how to use chopsticks?” I poked my tongue out at him and replied, “Well I keep asking you to teach me and all you do is say nasty things to me about how I can’t do it!”
His laughter hung in the air as he walked back to the kitchen. His wicked sense of humor was a source of frustration to his strict father, who owned a number of Chinese restaurants across town. Guo and his lovely wife Xiu managed The Peking Garden on his father’s behalf, and the quaint little restaurant prospered. Even though they had a staff of four working for them, he often would serve the customers himself while Xiu ran the kitchen with a dour hand. Guo’s easy-going, amiable charm and Xiu’s talent in the kitchen were mostly why I loved coming here
. I dove into my meal. I was really hungry and it was as good as always. I savored each bite. Xiu really was a fabulous cook; she had sent all her kitchen staff home for the night and had prepared my meal herself.
It had been a long day. A long week, a long year in fact. I worked as an architect at Anderson’s and Anderson’s, the largest architectural firm in the city. One of our key clients was Samuel Olsen, a property developer who specialized in commercial office towers, shopping malls, and residential highrises.
I had been engaged as chief architect to design a large shopping mall on the city’s north side, where a new residential development had recently opened up. It had been just under 11 months from the initial consultation about the project, and I had seen it through to planning, engineering assessments, approvals, and design.
Samuel Olsen was a difficult client, he had strong ideas about what he wanted and would not take no for an answer lightly. He also had an uncanny knack for predicting what services would be needed where and when. He had made a fortune in the process.
I had worked with him on a few projects over the years; the first time was some ten years prior when I was a part of the team that designed the office building in which I now worked…The Map in the Fortune Cookie – Jane Stockwell