Teacher Gao’s Teacher

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“The city is beautiful and prosperous. It is much better than the countryside.” – Zhang Huike

This line, in one of my favorite movies, stayed with me for a while. It didn’t resonate with me because it brought back memories of childhood experiences I’ve had, but because it was meaningful and succinct to the young character’s story. Old Teacher Gao is trying to keep his very young students in school but he sometimes loses them because they have to work to feed themselves and their families. Zhang Huike is one of those very young students, and a trouble maker as it begins.

The film “Not One Less” is, beneath the surface, a story about labor to me. It’s about working and doing what you’re told you’re supposed to do in order to get paid. That’s what the story is about. The message that you get during it is much more intangible. Teacher Gao’s circumstance at the beginning of the film requires him to find a substitute teacher for himself. The events that follow are remarkable, not because of the turn of events and sequence of actions, but because of all the ideas that sneak up on you quietly. Ideas we already know.

What makes this idea of work, and this interpretation of labor, more interesting to me is to add a different perspective than our own. That is usually the case when we learn to appreciate something we’ve taken for granted in the past. It’s also universal to the idea of working that most of the planet can relate to in a very similar way. We can call it bartering. We can call it trade. We can even call it charity or philanthropy if you will, but it’s really all some kind of job to be completed.

Whether we wake up every day and look forward or dread the type of work in front of us is not the point. The fact is that we all have something to do for something to gain. We intentionally and unintentionally judge, envy, dismiss and appreciate others every day for the work they do.

Appreciation of work is also universal. The acknowledgement and celebration of it is what is always subjective.
The first Monday in September is a national holiday in the United States created by the labor movement in the late 1800s. It is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers in the United States. The amusing thing about this holiday is that we honor it by not working. Actually that’s not entirely true. There is much work to be done over the Labor Day Holiday. We just don’t get paid for it, but we sure do appreciate it when it’s accomplished.

As I’m finishing typing this I’m getting ready to drive out to my next Barbeque dinner with friends and family, so we can not work together today.

I’d like to dedicate this to the people who I think are the hardest working people in the world. All the teachers who quietly and mindfully do their work every single day in every single form, and labor through it without the fanfare. I’ll also be thinking of young Zhang Huike and all the extra chalk he brought back or Teacher Gao’s substitute teacher.

About The Author

I made a choice to enter the real estate field early while considering pursuing a career either as an architect, psychologist, musician or an active duty U.S. Marine. Starting as a full time Realtor and a top agent in my first office, I quickly realized I had to expand my knowledge and education into the commercial market to better serve both my clients and customers. Experience through a varied background in many aspects of the business is what I have earned since 1987, including studying abroad for partner market investments, active memberships with National Real Estate Associations, local Equal Housing committees, and neighborhood Chambers of Commerce. Continuing education has proven to me that the industry is ever changing, and we all must meet the needs and demands of our previous and future clients and customers on local, national, and international scopes. Being proud and very grateful to have worked with the most successful and professional companies in Chicago such as Prudential, Coldwell Banker, and Rubloff only re-affirmed that the most important professional relationship in my industry is, and will continue to be directly between each Realtor and each individual client and customer. The real estate industry has changed and evolved dramatically, at the fastest pace ever in only these past few tumultuous years. Today, again I have made a choice to position myself to best use the myriad of resources available to me, to first and foremost, benefit my clients' needs above any franchise or companies' business strategy. I have been presented many Real Estate awards throughout my career. But one that I hold in high regard is a professional QSC designation with an almost 100% rating for referral, satisfied, and repeat clients. My work and reputation within the Real Estate community, business referral partners and fellow Realtor colleagues is also an indelible part of my business practice. As a Chicago Bucktown / Wicker Park resident and property owner, I greatly appreciate being able to invest personally in this market and donate a small portion from each of my closing commissions to the Chicago Mercy Home for Boys and Girls organization assisting abused and homeless children. I have always sustained and invested in my real estate career, and will continue as long as I am able to be productive, make a positive difference and truly enjoy it. It is important to me that my clients, customers and collegues enjoy it as well!

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