Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Heroes

We have a new wave of co-workers in manufacturing, the contractors, in the office.

Moments ago, I brewed a cup of tea in our small kitchen, and my heroes, the contractors, were sitting around the coffee table on their break.

The Asian woman asks emphatically of an Indian woman, 'Tell me, what do you want for your children? You realize that there is a huge difference between wants and needs, right? We all want a nice car, we all want a nice house, we all want; but what do we really need?'

The lively debate continued as my tea brewed, steaming in my cup.

Another woman offers, 'When my grandson came along, he became the most important thing in my life. The world can blow up, but as long as I have my grandson, I don't care.'

An Indian woman offered her point of view, and the man at the table chimed in, too.

The Asian said, 'But in my country there are so many people who do not get off their ass. They just sit there and don't realize that they need to work for a living.'

I smiled and my heart swelled, but returned to sadness because I am afraid of how few in my engineering and business cohort have such clarity on the wants versus needs debate. Again, refer to my other posts of how the media poisons us, but I digress.

My mind neatly fit this vignette in the kitchen into other stories that I glean from our manufacturing staff, my heroes. I talk to the Vietnamese man who just purchased solar panels and started taking scientific data from it so that he can build his business based on science. Perfect.

After work one day we stood in the entryway and he proudly showed me the design for his business. In halted, unsmooth English, he explained that his brother-in-law in Vietnam has a manufacturing house with 400 workers and all he has to do is open the pipeline for solar equipment. But he has to get the data first.

Furthermore, he explained how the solar panels harvest photons from the sun.

He'll be a millionaire someday, and soon.

I see so many people in my economic cohort that miss the vibrant life of my heroes. We count calories and debate the merits of our 401(k) investment strategy. We calculate our green potential and our carbon footprint because the media tells us so.

But my heroes are here among us. They debate. They explore. They live. They care because they have nothing else, but the true American dream. They are finding their way to explore, grow within, and celebrate the American freedoms.

I joke about this often by saying simply, 'I never want to go too far away from the bottom deck of the Titanic.'

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