I have a Herman Miller chair that I bought that I still use today. Around the time I graduated from college, the Herman Miller Aeron was all the rage, ergonomic chairs that were supposed to be good for posture, if one had to sit in chairs all day. So a year after I had stopped working for the man, I decided I needed one of these chairs as most of my useless life was probably going to be wasted sitting in a chair in front of a computer. Now of course, I couldn't just get the Aeron, so I got the Embody, a heavy fucking ass chair that cost an absurd amount of money. I'm normally not the extravagant type, but I do like to get quality things that I feel like I'd get the most use out of, so keep that in mind if you look up how much one of these things costs.
A college friend recently moved into my apartment. He's got tons of boxes, most of them shipped through UPS. One of the things you figure out when you move across the country is that you have to limit the things that you bring over, bigger things like furniture is usually rebought on location. When I moved to Los Angeles, one of the logistical things I didn't realize until it happened was that the Embody chair is a heavy fucking object, and it doesn't really come apart into many pieces, so compacting, packing and shipping it was a pain in the ass (not to mention the shipping cost was probably the price of most chairs in general). So I brought it back to my parent's house in Westchester before shipping it over.
Suburban life doesn't change too much over time, but you notice little differences here and there, establishments that you go to tons of times as a kid growing up start going out of business. It's one of those things my parents probably don't give too many shits about (I'm sure they're fine with the local A&P closing down), but growing up in it has a stronger feeling of change. Intellectually, you know things are supposed to be different when you return to a place of childhood, but it does still elicit an emotional response of unexpectedness.
So when I went to the local UPS in Ardsley, I was somewhat surprised to see a middle aged Korean man running the shop. The town is small enough that everyone knows everyone, so I'd have bound to run into any Korean family with a local business. I surmised he must've been a recent transplant.
I brought the chair in and as anyone would, the ajusshi had a long hard look at it with somewhat of a puzzlement, as probably a combination of why would anyone own a chair like this, why would anyone pay to transport a chair like this. After noticing my last name was Kim, he started engaging in a rapport with me. There's a special type of chumminess that Koreans have with each other that I mostly disengage from (fighting!), but I obliged somewhat since the whole respecting elder thing.
He asked me if I was a college student (I still look somewhat young, I suppose), and when I replied in the negative, he asked me what I was doing over in Los Angeles. I think moving forward, my default should be just to lie and say something pedestrian so as to not draw the disapproving look of an Asian parent (that isn't even mine), but at the time I did the stupid thing and told him I was pursuing an acting career. Surprisingly, he seemed enthusiastic about it, asking me a bunch of questions. He asked if I knew Doona Bae, a Korean actress who had "crossed over" into American media, as if all Korean actors knew each other in this small brotherhood conclave of Korean actors. I said something to the effect of, "Nah, I'm kind of just starting out" to which he gave me a look of utmost pride and expectation and said, "You're going to be big some day, I know it."
I responded with a "haha/maybe/I hope so" but I think even then I had more doubt about my career than this man who had met me for all of 10 minutes about the certainty of his prediction. Watching La La Land reminded me of how much of a pipe dream this all could be, but the fact that many people still pursue it because they "just knew". I'm someone who's no stranger to rejection, one could say that rejection has shaped my entire personality and outlook on life. Sometimes I do try to stir up the Michael Jordan-like mentality of "fuck da haters" and try to go HAM on my accomplishments, but there's only so much confidence one can self generate without confirmation from the outside world that there's something to be confident about.
Riding back from an Uber last month back home, a young Arabic driver gave me the same proclamation, that I was destined for greatness. He remarked that I made him laugh just by laughing myself, and said I'd be a great comedian. I couldn't help but skeptically thinking that just laughing during a stand up routine would probably not win over a crowd, and this guy was full of shit trying to get a 5 star Uber rating. But it's interesting to run into strangers that have more confidence than you do in yourself (assuming they're genuine), because you wonder what it is they're seeing in their snap judgment of yourself. Are they too naive to see reality and what it takes, or am I too cynical now to see my own potential?
It's almost because of these people that have given me their random vote of confidence, when I feel ready to give up and call it a life, that I have a responsibility to these people to fulfill their vision. I remember every moment these types of things happen (pretty easily because they are so few and far in between) so hopefully one day if I reach the pinnacle, I can give them proper recognition.