Free Article page three

A lesson from my parents continues.

Idiom: For free. Informal. Without charge.

Nothing is free

As time went by, thousands of sales representatives passed through. I witnessed many important events, such as a rival company mimicking our product (bad imitation) and "stealing" my parents' sales people by luring them with their "free" stuff. My parents fired 5,000 people who had "betrayed" them and acted as spies, kept less than 500, and re-built the company. I was there when they realized that Tupperware products would not go away even after they were gone, and that they could not teach their sales people to be honest. Why sell even more Tupperware to households that already had so many of its items? They resigned, and I learned another valuable lesson when the people whom they had taught not only turned their backs on them, but also did everything to sabotage their next business. "Nothing is free." They still say, "Everything comes with a price." At this point, I believe they referred to actions and responsibilities. I was living in the United States at that time, with a "nanny" in a house which they had bought and to which they came to stay one month every two months. With another daughter in a very expensive international school in Bangkok, my parents had to brainstorm quickly how to bring in income. They decided to go into a consumable product, both for moral and marketing reasons: You consume it, it's gone, and you buy another. This is no longer a "hard" sale. They started the complete food system, ready-to-cook food packed in individual portions, made to my mother's own recipes. (An excellent cook, I'm still learning from her.) This was a good move, because Bangkok's way of living has always been so hectic: with everyone on the run all the time, time is of the essence. I took a year off from school- with no regrets- so that I could learn my way in the new line of business, and I found it very exciting and rewarding. I was seventeen. My parents were- once again- pioneers. This ready-to-cook business would have evolved into "ready-to-eat" -where customers would shop our selections and have their food cooked to eat in our restaurant. Timing, though, was everything. Stanhome approached my parents to present its high quality and green cleaning and cosmetic products. I was too young to take the food business. My parents had to make a choice, and they chose Stanhome. Yet again they were pioneers. They soon learned that Tupperware had initially branched out of Stanhome. I wondered if Stanhome had sought to expand in south-east Asian countries years ago, would they have found my parents? That didn't happen, of course: we have to accept that we can only control certain aspects of events in our lives.

I used to wonder whether I was loved unconditionally, but I soon realized that, even though the words were unspoken, my parents were hoping that I would love them back. Most Thais (at least back when I was growing up) helped out family members. It was in our culture that our parents would take care of us when we were young, and therefore, when they are in their old ages, it would be our turn to take care of them. As strange as this may sound, the term "free," as in "there's no such thing," can very well be applied in this situation. It's not enough just to pay it forward, we also have to pay it back.



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