In the past two or three weeks, a couple of journal keepers, by sharing their canteen experiences with me, have provoked my thoughts on an issue.


Zhipeng is a charitable boy. He is ready to help those around him. Whoever is in need is sure to get a warm hand from the lad. He fetches drinking water for some boys and girls at recess from the dispenser. At mealtimes, some classmates often ask him to get a meal for them from the canteen, which is a long way away from the classroom building.


Zhipeng did not start to complain until last week. Sometimes as many as five or six mates asked him for the favour. Tender-hearted, he found he could not refuse them. But as he was queuing in the hall for his turn one afternoon, it occurred to him that he was wasting a lot of time. Also when he was ordering the meals, he had to get the food using one hand and pay for it with the right intelligence meal card using the other. It seemed that he would need six pairs of hands to handle it all. It was too much trouble. Amidst noise and heat, Zhipeng was sweating profusely in the throng. He realised that while he was taking the time to get the meals, those who asked him for the favour were looking after their own homework in the air-conditioned classroom. Zhipeng felt taken advantage of.


One of his classmates, Mr Shu Yu, complained in his journal about those students like Zhipeng and those who ask for favours. Shu Yu sometimes waited for a long time for his turn at the counter in the canteen. When he got closer and closer to the dinner lady, he was happy that it would not be long before his turn came. Many times it turned out that the one or two students in front of him were just the lot like Zhipeng, who were helping get meals for their friends. It took ages and ages for these fetchers to get their orderings done and vacate the place. Shu Yu cursed those students who depended on others for a meal. He thought that they were selfish. Rather than take the time to go and get a meal by themselves, they exploited their classmate. While guys like Zhipeng are shuttling between the classroom and the canteen, they are devoting the time to their lessons in the classroom. Don’t they know that they are sponging off their kind-hearted classmate like leeches?


I am no longer a student, but what Zhipeng and Shu Yu shared in their journals reminds me of my school days. I met similar guys too then. At that time, I was not aware that they were playing on my kindness. I was always ready to give them a hand when they needed it. Of course, it was not until much later that I came to see what kind of character they had.


Today I have my job and my career. I work with adults. Sometimes I ask myself whether there are such cadgers around me. I make it a rule that I am not to be a cadger. I should be self-sufficient. Meanwhile, should someone attempt to abuse my kindness, I will say a firm No. We have to do it loud and clear in their face. No shame, no offence.

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