A Familiar Image
#31
Dear Duy,

It's my honor to read your stories. Your English is much better than mine for sure.  You have a talent to express yourself so that I can see through your eyes what's going on, and can share with you how you feel.

I understand that it takes time and inspiration to sit down to write.  

Take care of yourself and be safe.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.  

Cheer
⏱️
Phật trí vô biên nhưng chỉ độ người hữu duyên. 
Sư Toại Khanh (Giác Nguyên) Giảng Kinh
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#32
My career as an accountant was not part of my original plan when I first attended college, but I have been doing it for more than thirty years now.  I don’t look or dress like an accountant, and I don’t even have an updated resume to present for an accounting job.  The fact is that my accounting background was started only by chance, or one could call it by luck.  The timing of it was just right in a perfect situation, which more likely had something to do with me being an Asian young man.  Nearly all of my knowledge in the accounting field specializing in the nonprofit sector was the result of ongoing self-taught effort and years of working experience, which is pretty much the same to say about the linguistic skills in all three languages that I have learned so far, Chinese, English, and Vietnamese.  Gradually as I became very good at what I am contracted to do for managing some small nonprofit organizations' finance department, my beating heart for the artistic creations had still rooted me throughout my accounting career.


[Image: SCAN0002-XL.jpg]
 

When I first came to America, my sole interest in the study was in art and fine arts, which is the only field I could imagine myself doing ever since I was very young.  During the early years after arriving in Chicago, other than learning English starting from the alphabet, and then gradually moving up to various levels of ESL classes, I also took many classes to learn the basic forms of art for several years.  For a long period of roughly eight years, I used to carry with me every day a load of art materials and ESL books to school and work, or to work and then school, even on Saturdays.  At one time when I ended up being homeless for a couple of months because I couldn’t afford to pay rent, I was jobless for four months, and it started right after I already sent home the little saving I have before I become unemployed.  I still attended school at night as usual during that two-month.
 
Although I didn’t quite worry about sleeping on the benches at night for short while, I still needed a place to keep all the little belongings that I have.  At this point, I was still fully enrolled in school and have classes five days a week, which included the art classes that required lots of materials and supplies.  I also had a lot of paintings and drawings done on papers from previously completed projects, all rolled up into a tube, which included a portrait of myself that I painted from the reflection of a mirror.  I locked all of them into a clocked locker at the main Greyhound Station in downtown Chicago, and I was supposed to come once a week to insert more quarters for another seven days.  By the time a whole month had past and I was still jobless, I went to more employment agencies for assistance and travel farther for interviews.  Then this one time when I ended up so stress-out and completely forgot to return for replenishing more quarters.  I was just two days late, but it made no difference whether a day late or just an hour.  When I was told that my locker was already cleaned out and many items were trashed afterward, I was madly angry and felt devastated, but nothing I couldn’t say anything much or justify anything because my English was just so bad.  All my precious collection of paintings and drawings that I had kept for years were suddenly gone, just like that.  Such a ravaging event probably had eventually stopped me from becoming a homeless starving artist.
 
By the time I completed all the levels of ESL classes and newly passed the GED test, by now I wanted to test my limit by seeking a job to be a front desk clerk at a medium-range hotel, such as Hilton or Marriott.  I figured that I would need to anticipate many interviews before may even possibly landed a job.  The most difficult challenge for me then was to overcome my English verbal communication skill, including my pronunciation which needed a great deal of time and opportunities to practice.  It was the biggest challenge I ever engaged in to test my limit for my entire life up to that point, and I was so determined to achieve it, for a front desk position at a hotel.  Very fortunately and sure enough as I had wished, finally I got hired by a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel after experiencing so many failures through numerous interviews, but that was only the beginning of a long, long period of constant struggles at work. (to be continued)
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#33
"All my precious collection of paintings and drawings that I had kept for years were suddenly gone, just like that."
 
I'm sorry that you lost your art works.  Someone says our mind is the only thing no one can take away. However, with dementia and mental illness, nothing is certain.

Thanks-sign-smiley-emoticon
⏱️
Phật trí vô biên nhưng chỉ độ người hữu duyên. 
Sư Toại Khanh (Giác Nguyên) Giảng Kinh
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#34
After a whole week of hands-on training during the day, which mainly focused on various office procedures, and getting familiar with the computer terminals for first-time users to check in and out guests, and then I was assigned to work on the night ship as a night auditor with additional three more days of training on the nightly bookkeeping tasks.  At this point of the story, perhaps I should mention where I came from once again so that the apprehensive situation can be more comprehensive to read what happened.  Before the first night when I stood at a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel’s front desk, all alone, with only a few days of training to take on all the office tasks in English, the harder part was to be always ready to greet every guest who came in or out of the hotel, especially during the early morning hours when dozens and dozens of them usually checkout, one after another and another if not altogether.  Well, roughly ten years before that first night when I was officially on my own and alone at the front desk, I was only an elementary school dropout boy from a small town in Vietnam, whose only real job prior was as a railroad labor worker and had only worked with primitive hand tools before.
 
The very first time when I had my hands slowly typing on computer terminals, my palms and forehead were almost dripping with my sweats.  But that was nothing compared to the moment when the very first guests on my first night alone checked in as a couple with a reservation.  They were young and good-looking, and they seemed to have had a few drinks from a bar nearby before checking in a hotel.  I still vaguely remember that the guy was still in his office clothing and a tie dangling around his neck, a little bit tipsy and eagerly ready for a good night.  The girl was probably in her mid-twenties in her light pink dress, blonde and full of energy looking, a slim and tall pretty gal.  It was obvious to me that all they needed was just a room quickly before they both burst into a watery mess.  The only problem then was that I had completely forgotten how to check them in, and there was no one around to kindly remind me once again how the system works.  For about ten minutes or so but seemed much longer, the stubborn flashing light of the cursor on the terminal had suddenly quit on me and refused to move.  My forehead once again sweating while still looking at a blank screen, I didn’t even dare to look up the whole time to face the young couples, but I can sense that guy was getting impatience.  “What’s wrong?  Do you have my reservation or not?”  He asked, but I can’t even answer his question because I still couldn’t move past the blank screen with a blinking cursor.  It didn’t take long before the guy got very angry and started to swear at me, “what the F is this!?!” As he became nastier, “how the F did you get the Fcking job !?!”  Honestly speaking, I can understand why the guy was so upset, despite how much I already explained and apologized.  The pretty girl, on the other hand, must have felt sorry for me as she tried to tell the guy that they still could go somewhere else too.  “His first night on the job, so it’s understandable…” she said.
 
The good news was that I didn’t get fired afterward, probably because I was very new, and probably because the property manager was already aware of my weakness when she decided to hire me as the first Asian staff on board.  So, instead, I got a couple more days of training.  Weeks later once I got the office procedures tackled and had overcome my technophobia weakness, my next immediate goals were to practice the casual conversations with the guests and my colleagues, especially for the part where I needed to address a guest by his or her last name.  Pronouncing the names in English correctly, particularly for the last names, was not an easy task for me in general, let alone remembering the pronunciation instantly during a conversation.  Therefore, I spent a great of time practicing how to pronounce all different names on my bus rides to and from work.  Overall, it was still a particularly good entry-level position for me to experience other than being a butcher at an Asian grocery market or working at some odd jobs I had before. Six months into the job and gradually became one of the most knowledgeable night auditors among all the properties in their Midwest region. Other night auditors from other hotel properties sometimes called me for advice on how to reconcile their audited balances and variances.
 
Soon after my probation period was over and already received a dollar more per hour, the Courtyard’s Midwest regional office located in Chicago had an entry-level accounting position open, and their finance director wanted to promote someone from within. My property manager came to me and suggested that I should apply for it, and I would earn $2 more per hour if I got the job. “Asian people are good with numbers…” she said with a teasing smile, but I had a feeling that she meant it.  Fortunately, guess what, she was right!  I was hired for the junior accounting position right after the first interview, even without taking courses in accounting before, and still poorly at speaking English.  Perhaps I did look sharp for the interview or had answered the questions appropriately.  Or is it truly because I was, once again, the first Asian to hire for the sole purpose of having a diversified group of staff.  I still wonder about that to this day. (to be continued)
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#35
I think they hired you because they needed a tri-lingual employee, and because of  other qualifications that they saw in you very clearly during the interview.

Congratulations.  I'm very impressed. Your family must be and should be very proud of you.
⏱️
Phật trí vô biên nhưng chỉ độ người hữu duyên. 
Sư Toại Khanh (Giác Nguyên) Giảng Kinh
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#36
LTP,

You are very kind!  And thank you for the kind words!  Now, let me continue on this part of the story while I am still in the mood to type it out.
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#37
If an opportunity for a potential career path was presented within my reach, especially when I was still young, I would go for it regardless of what the possible outcome will be, either successful or a total failure in the end.  I wouldn’t mind if I failed, as long as I had the opportunity to try my best.  However, a successful outcome to me doesn’t always base on monetary reward but also based on personal satisfaction and circumstances as well.  For my first ten years in the US, I was happy to follow a career path as a butcher and had worked on it for eight years.  I still could see myself being happy working as a butcher at this point in my life if needed.  Back then I took the opportunity to go through the whole basic training every day for three months before being hired with a plane ticket from Southern California to Chicago, just to be a butcher.  For eight years, I was a master at dissecting the whole pigs into small parts of pork for sale with only a thin six-inches knife.  It seemed like a perfect career when I needed it most.  At that point in life when I needed a reliable source of income and a more predictable future, being a butcher was the best thing I could do to help pay rent and send home financial support for a whole family still in Vietnam.  Initially, it was mainly for the money when I have no other ways to earn more, but then I eventually learned and realized that I could enjoy the interaction with customers over the counter too, and that included the appreciation of the rare opportunity to utilize my multi-lingual skills at one place.
 
With the accounting career when I initially started to seriously consider it, I took it as an educational challenge more than a money-making opportunity.  As I was thinking, I would need to learn how to operate a computer and improve my English for better communication skills, which I still needed even if I don’t get the job.  Or if one day somehow I became a professional accountant, it would be a shred of indisputable evidence for me to know that I also could learn from textbooks to become an expert at something, not like when I used to fail at school so often as a kid.  Fortunately for me, the new job at Courtyard’s regional office also provided a tuition reimbursement program, and I took full advantage of it.  I continued to attend school and started to take accounting courses until I got my two Associate Degrees in Accounting and International Business a few years later.  Unfortunately, I had to stop there and was quite disappointed.  The main reason was that I couldn’t get past the two classes that were required to advance my education further.  The two classes were Business Calculus and English 102.
 
After two desperate attempts on two separate occasions for these two classes and failed, by now I was in my early thirties.  My mental condition in my thirties in addition to a newly connected love life started to affect my focus on the continuation of study.  The truth was that I didn’t have a good foundation in Math and English because I didn’t even finish the seventh grade before taking college courses in English.  Going past all the algebra classes was nearly impossible for me, let alone taking on calculus.  In other words, I didn’t finish college either.  So the occupational question I often came across usually comes like this, “so how did you become an accountant without a college degree and still be able to manage multiple fiscal operations from different organizations at the same time?”  For me, there is only one answer to such a question, and this is where I usually underscored the hard-working ethic and dedication as equal to accomplishments, even without a formal education.
 
My first accounting job at Courtyard eventually ended when the market crashed in the early 1990s.  By that time the company decided to downsize its operation and consolidated some of its regional offices, including the one where I used to work.  I didn’t bother to claim unemployment and immediately searched for a new job.  Within two weeks or so, I came across a job opening advertisement published by a local nonprofit organization for an Employment Counselor position, and the basic requirements were rather simple which included fluency in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese too, but Vietnamese would be considered a great plus.  It seemed as though the job description fit my qualifications well, so I quickly sent in my resume for the position.  While it seemed that everything was going well during the interview, even the interviewer and I had a good laugh about the event that occurred on my first night working at the hotel.  “I believe you are qualified for the Employment Counselor position with your recent employment history and tri-lingual skill, but I would like to refer you to a different position in our organization with a higher salary range.”  I was confused upon hearing that, and she probably can tell from my facial expression, so she added more for clarification. “It’s the business manager position recently became available.  The job responsibilities will involve managing our day-to-day operation at the front desk, in charge of the human resource and the fiscal functions.  All that seems to fit well with your experience and recent achievements,” she said.  But there was a catch to it; chances are I won’t be able to get either position due to the timing and their priority to fill each of those positions.  In other words, if I passed on the Employment Counselor position which she had already considered hiring me for it, there is no guarantee that I will be hired for the Business Manager position after an interview with the Executive Director that was scheduled a week later.  She was quite sincere in telling me all that, and my instinct told me that I should go with her suggestion.  Her name was Peggy Desmond.  Even though the interview was more than thirty years ago, I still remember her name because of how significantly her suggestion from that day had impacted my future. (to be continued)
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#38
https://deweyknowss.smugmug.com/G%E1%BB%...-mj8dkJk/A

Soon enough, I was informed that I got the business manager position, but the title of the position itself was kind of misleading because the organization was not a business-oriented company.  It was a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide social services and outreach advocacy for the local communities, not like they were conducting any type of business transactions or marketing for any products.  During the interview, I was informed that my utmost priorities on the job for the first six months were to update the manual internal procedures, and, most importantly, to complete the setup of the computerized accounting system from where my predecessor had left off.  Both of those tasks were quite challenging for me, but I was ready to welcome a new challenge.  After all, my four years of employment with Marriott had taught me well, and I intentionally wanted to see if I could put all my working experience and the little academic background in accounting to a real test.  This was 1992, and the accounting software that my predecessor had used to set up the system was called, “Quicken” which is the first and original version of “QuickBooks” that we often see in the market today.  The software itself was very user-friendly and easy to implement for small businesses, but for a nonprofit operation where various funding sources must be designated with a cost center, which could add up to tens or hundreds of cost centers.  Therefore, properly incorporating and utilizing all the software functions in conjunction with the nonprofit accounting principles was the key, and that was the reason why my predecessor resigned after he already failed or was not even close to completing the project within six months.  He was a newly graduated student.
 
I accepted the job knowing that it will be very difficult to meet the expectations, especially for the completion of the in-house computerized accounting system within six months.  Not like I had the experience setting up an accounting system before, but I had gained extensive hands-on accounting experience and office procedures from my previous job at Marriott.  After realizing that I had already failed to move onto a four-year college, by now I was feeling a little bit lost and needed to take on a different approach to building a career.  Somehow the new job seemed like an alternative path that could lead me somewhere, instead of climbing the usual corporate ladder.  “So, I will see to it,” I promised myself after the first day at work.  But unlike the modern days that we live in today, there were no google search engine, no online instructions to look up, and no visual videos to follow like on YouTube that we have nowadays.  Back in the early 1990s, if we need to learn something or try to set up something by ourselves, we hit the library for educational materials or instructional references.  For the first time in my life, I became a bookworm for four or five months straight, even before and after working hours.  As much as I needed to read and understand all the technical instructions, I still had to set up one phony system after another, and another, just for testing.  It was an all-out fight against time and drained energy.  The result was that I complete the system ahead of the six-month expectation, and the manual internal procedures were updated as well.  It was the biggest and most unprecedented accomplishment I have yet imagined that I could manage to do before.
 
One thing about the accounting jobs is this; the longer one stayed on the job, the faster one can get the job done.  Roughly one year into the new job as I already achieved all the goals and objectives that were set forth for the first year, it was time for me to consider a more advanced position, but the current one was a dead-end position unless I resign and seek for another job somewhere else with a higher salary, which I also aware that it won’t be realistic for someone without the required education background anyway.  So, instead of resigning from my current position after just one year, I wanted to propose to my boss a new position as a contractual staff, which is a different approach to managing the organization’s fiscal department efficiently and sufficiently without concerning the essential position turnover so often.  It was also ideal for long-term planning with reduced personnel costs and personnel turnover prevention in mind for small organizations.  In other words, I will be going from a full-time staff on payroll to becoming a part-time contractual staff without compromising my performance.  I won’t be on payroll and therefore it reduced fringe benefit costs to the organization as well, but such a contractual agreement would give me the flexibility to work remotely and the availability to contract more services with other organizations.  It was a well-thought proposal that my boss had no feasible reasons to turn down, especially since I had already shown him what I could do and my work ethic from day one.
 
This is where my career as a contractual accountant specializing in nonprofit operations truly started.  Over the years, the more organizations I had engaged to work with since then, the more knowledge I gained from hands-on experience in managing government grant contracts and foundation contributions, as well as working with the organization's board of directors.  Starting from the first attempt when I spent months on end at the library to learn about setting up a computerized accounting system for a nonprofit organization, I believe I had cracked the “secret codes” in managing the finance for small nonprofit organizations.  For the past thirty years since then, I had worked with at least thirty different organizations in Chicago.  The truth is that I still don’t have a framed college degree hanging on the wall, and I still don’t have an official trophy with my name written on it, but that is the reality.  However, more importantly, I know and always remember exactly where I came from.
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#39
(2022-05-03, 12:00 PM)LeThanhPhong Wrote: I think they hired you because they needed a tri-lingual employee, and because of  other qualifications that they saw in you very clearly during the interview.

Congratulations.  I'm very impressed. Your family must be and should be very proud of you.

LTD,

I am not sure if you still remember a couple of times when I was mentioning the long string of luck that I was granted from above before, but I was not just randomly saying that.  It actually happened miraculously, going from the day in 1978 when I walked from Đèo Hải Vân to get home in Đà Nẵng at 2 am, to the day when I got hired as the Business Manager at that small nonprofit organization in 1992.  It was a long stringed line of luck and miracles, just incredible.  And for that, I should be a religious person.
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#40
... without college degree just pass all required accountant classes then you have certificate and your school will send you to intern somewhere with minimum wages ... but now you already a professional accountant anyways ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ...
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#41
(2022-05-04, 05:31 PM)schi Wrote: ... without college degree just pass all required accountant classes then you have certificate and your school will send you to intern somewhere with minimum wages ... but now you already a professional accountant anyways ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4  ...

What... ?  is that a way to become a professional accountant nowadays, really?
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#42
... not really nowadays but sometimes before ... Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... nowadays there are too many courses online that you can take for certificate ... some business companies or charity organization don't want to hire college accountant degree because they don't want to pay salary according to degree ... one of my acquaintances has college degree in accounting but she's in need to support her family at that time so she grabbed any kind of job to survive ... after some years she's lay off then she came back to some adult education center to get help from instructors working in the field accounting and then she has good job until now ... accounting salary is just normal not high but the job last long because small companies want someone familiar with their books ...
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#43
(2022-05-05, 03:42 AM)schi Wrote: ... not really nowadays but sometimes before ... Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4  ... nowadays there are too many courses online that you can take for certificate ... some business companies or charity organization don't want to hire college accountant degree because they don't want to pay salary according to degree ... one of my acquaintances has college degree in accounting but she's in need to support her family at that time so she grabbed any kind of job to survive ... after some years she's lay off then she came back to some adult education center to get help from instructors working in the field accounting and then she has good job until now ... accounting salary is just normal not high but the job last long because small companies want someone familiar with their books ...

Very true!  Just perfect while living in Vietnam.
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#44
... living in Vietnam living in Vietnam ... still stubborn on that idea .... where are you now ...
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#45
(2022-05-05, 01:48 PM)schi Wrote: ... living in Vietnam living in Vietnam ... still stubborn on that idea .... where are you now ...

I am confused...  See, my ex-wife or ex-gf would say something like that because for an old to go to Vietnam is usually a bad thing... hehe...  Ms., do I know you?
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