Thursday, August 06, 2009

Mr. Kim Becomes a Statistic


Mr. Kim runs my favorite lunch spot, Café Haru, a modest Sushi and Teriyaki restaurant near my office in Lynnwood, WA. I have been eating lunch there for over 8 years. The food has always been good. The place is clean. And even though Mr. Kim’s English is not the best, he always made me feel welcome and appreciated. And he and his wife served the best Nabi Yaki Udon in the world (that’s noodle soup with seafood, chicken and vegetables for the unlucky few who have never tried the nabi).

Lately business has been slowing down at the cafe. Several large office buildings near by have closed or laid off large numbers of workers. But I kept hoping Mr. Kim could hang on until this “recession” ended. Just like I keep hoping that my company will hang on until this “economic downturn” has corrected. Just like millions of Americans are hoping and praying for a couple more pay checks during this “slowdown”.

Mr. Kim just informed me today that Friday is his last day. The rent is due and he can’t pay it. The Café is closing down. He came out from behind the counter and hugged me and my friend Mike. He asked us to convey his thanks to our wives. And he wished us well. We wish Mr. Kim and his family well and hope they find some way to make it in this “tough economic climate.”

Mr. Kim became a statistic today. He and his small business will show up as debits and credits in a number of ledger books and quarterly statements. He is one of the nearly half a million people also suddenly out of work this week in our country. His retail space will get tallied up as under utilized. His mortgage will go into forclosure. But none of those numbers really tell the tale. None of the statistics paint the human picture and the upset and upheaval these good natured, hard working people will have to endure because of this “recession”. I don't feel the loss of Mr. Kim and his restaurant in my checkbook, I feel it in my heart.

I’m sure every one out there has a Mr. Kim or two or twenty in their lives right now. Things are pretty unsettled in the economic world right now. And it is hard to feel every unemployment number personally, but every time the news talks about down sizing, or jobless claims, or whatever the Wall Street Journal approved terminology is, behind those sanitized business terms and statistics there are real people getting their lives turned upside down.

So I wish a hardy Good Luck and pray a mighty prayer for all the Mr. Kims out there and for all of us. And I say that this is exactly why we need Single Payer Healthcare in this country. This is exactly why we need bankruptcy reforms. And this is why we need better regulations on Corporations who are willing to ignore human measures of happiness and wellness as long as their “economic” measures indicate a short-term profit in the next quarter. This is why we need to reclaim our society and map out what falls within the commons of our society and keep the profit motive and the profit margin out of those areas of our lives. If we do not, we will continue to give over our lives and our communities to Corporations who only see us as resources at best and expenses at worst. And we will continue to lose good members of our communities, people like the Kims.

Good Luck Mr. Kim. Good Luck to all of us. I think we are going to need it, because the statistics seem to indicate that we are all in for a bumpy ride. Thanks for the great soup, Mr. Kim! Many thanks!

1 comment:

Ronnie Larsen and Sally said...

it really is a nightmare out there, financially. stories like kims are not being told in great enough numbers. thank you for sharing that.