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Sweetness and light nourish office worker bees
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Office "worker bees" in their 30s and 40s like myself, worn out by the daily stress and strain of living in busy Beijing, have become increasingly blunted emotionally. On most weekdays we look as sulky as the wintry weather.

But small gestures, especially from those around us, can sometimes touch our hearts.

My friends and I shared our experiences at noon the other day. During our lunchtime get-together my colleague, Mr Pan, told me his parents had come from Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu province to join his family in the Chinese capital. And that's where he began his story.

"When I talked with my colleagues about my parents' arrival, Mr Feng said he wanted to do something for them," Pan said. "I told him, 'Well, they don't need anything - no Peking duck or Peking Opera, I can look after them myself'."

"I'll do something else," was Feng's reply.

The next day when he was about to leave his office, Pan found a bag of beautifully packaged apples and other fruit near the door. It was from Feng.

He later told Pan the gift was for his parents: "Just so that they know that you have friends here - thousands of miles away from your parents."

Pan replied: "A bag of fruit may just be worth several yuan, but that's the most valuable gift I and my parents have ever received.

"It soothed them to know I was not alone here and I have friends to turn to when I have difficulties," he added, his eyes beginning to well up.

Mr Huo, another colleague in his early 30s, nodded.

"That was a 'classic' case of caring and being considerate," Huo said. "I was equally moved last winter by an unknown Samaritan."

One day last December there was heavy snow in Beijing, blanketing all the vehicles parked outside. But when Huo went to his car, he found that someone had placed a sheet of newspaper between the snow and the windshield, so that when he removed the paper, his windshield was completely clear.

"I honestly felt warmed up in the biting chill," Huo said. "But who did this for me? I asked everybody I could think of, and no one acknowledged they did it."

Now it was my turn to talk.

"I also have a story to share - I was moved, too, yet not because of something others did for me, but just the contrary."

It was the first time I had felt compelled to tell this story, but I found the words came naturally to me.

"My friend went to study in the United States and left his father behind in Central China's Hunan province," I said. "Then one summer he wrote to me and asked me to send some money to his father because the old man didn't have a stable source of income."

I mailed a sum of money and a letter on my friend's behalf, telling his father that he could rely on me during his son's absence.

"I was moved because my friend trusted me," I said. "Maybe I've also touched the hearts of others, but that day I was touched by this poignant moment."

We did not eat much more but we all felt we had savored some good deeds.

(China Daily November 27, 2008)


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