Saturday, November 06, 2010

My husband shovels metal for a living.....

Sung Hyun is such a trooper when it comes to work. I suspect it is because he comes from a hardworking family. After his dad died of cancer when he was 10, his mom became the sole breadwinner for 6 children. That's a lot of mouths to feed. She worked in manual labour, since she was never schooled due to financial distress after the Korean war. Sung Hyun was the only male in the house and as such learned quickly that it was his duty was to take care of his mom. So he did just that. He dropped out of school in grade 10. He worked for his brother-in-law. He begged the army to let him service the mandatory 2 years (and 2 months) since he hadn't completed high school. At a time in life when most adolescent boys try to find ways to avoid doing military service, Sung Hyun was writing letters to officials asking to be granted permission to serve his country. The hard work and discipline that he learned was applied to his life. It became his motto. He's most know around his workplace for just being 'happy'. My friends compliment him on his sense of humour a happy demeanour.

Nothing in Sung Hyun's life came easy for him; except for his FREE RIDE TO CANADA -- a common expression made by some Koreans that have told me exactly that. Mostly Koreans who study English their whole lives hoping for some kind of opportunity to live abroad. If they are wealthy or come from higher class families then they are often awarded this privilege. And then here is this guy whose English mark was 8% in high school given the opportunity to live this dream. BAHAHAHAHA! NOT! I laugh at the notion that I'm his prince charming sweeping him away into a fairly tale world. Are you kidding me? I would never want to say good-bye to my family, to everything I've known my whole life to live in a foreign country forever (not to say we won't go back, but we are prepared for the long haul). A country with -50 degree winters to boot;)

No one paid for him to go to school (a privilege that I take for granted), no one gave him money to spend when he was growing up. The money he earned was very well earned. Even when he did favours for friends and they would slip him some green bills he still insisted on writing a receipt and turning the money over to the company he worked for.

When we came to Canada he told me "I'm ready to work hard in Canada. I'm ready to clean toilets" He's been at his job for 6 weeks now. He applied for 6 or 7 welding jobs but didn't get a single bite. So instead he accepted the first job he was offered. That job being at a metal scrap yard. For the first half of the day he shovels metal. For the second half of the day, if he's lucky, he cuts metal with a blow torch. He works outside.

Two weeks ago on Friday his boss asked him to do some welding. He got asked to come in on Saturday to work some overtime to continue with the welding job. After watching Sung Hyun work, a man from a private welding company that was working along side him that day asked him "what the hell are you doing here?" Sung Hyun, not knowing it was a compliment, replied: "I'm working here. I shovel metal. It's my job." The man laughed and continued to watch him work. He complimented him on his skills. Sung Hyun came home beaming that day!

Earlier that week after Sung Hyun had completed all the shovelling in the morning he went to the other side of the junk yard to find his cutting boss (a.k.a. another employee) to get his next assignment. After walking around the junk yard for 10 minutes looking for this guy he decided to go to the office to find him there. One the way to the office he found him alright. He found him sleeping in a pipe. He laughed and shook his head. And smiled!

Yesterday when Sung Hyun got home he told me he was fired. I knew he was kidding and something had to be up. He showed me his paycheck. After a month of work for this company he surpassed the probationary period and was given a $3 an hour pay raise -- obviously out of recognition and appreciation for his hard work.

So here's to my husband. A man who works hard but doesn't expect a thing in return!!

I'm too hard on him and don't give him enough credit for his awesomeness ;)


p.s. Sung Hyun did go back to school to finish his high school after a couple years into our relationship. And he got over 80% in most classes. Now, if only I could get him to be more serious about studying English <----- see I am hard on him ;)


Helena said...

Awesome! Good for him.

Sante said...

oh.. this is somewhat jaw-dropping life story that average Korean mn at my age wouldn't go through.. you know what? now I pretty much understand how your husband would consider his mom. His life story almost sounds like someone from 1950's like my grandfater's generation. Don't get me wrong I really honor his passion and what he have gone through... and his life story makes me feel guilty of what I did to my parents when I was young (swiping my parents credit cards while studying abroad, going clubbing cutting classes stuff like that :)) I'm very glad that he's now getting what he deserves at work too! and tell you what.. there are windows of opportunities for him to be even more successful in metal biz as SK and AB are still developing several upgraders(N.AB) and pipeline projects(S.SK). it's also good for you to have such a resposible husband! BTW, I have new K.husban/C.wife visiting from Korea later... I think this trend is happening more recently.

Why am I here??? said...

Thanks Helena! I'll pass on the words words of encouragement to him.

Very insightful Sante. I'm so glad you take time to comment on these posts. It means a lot. Also, when you friend visits it would be interesting to hear about their relationship. Keep me posted on that. As far as work goes, Sung Hyun is getting some good Canadian work experience under his belt which seems to be important. Thanks again ;)

asiangarden said...


Ess Low said...

Hey Jennipal, I don't comment on your blog often but just wanted to say that's an awesome story and your hubby sounds like a great guy.