Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about It's Never Too Late and Layover Nightmare in Japan.Support the show
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on https://inspiremereads.com.
Hello and welcome to episode #80 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about It’s Never Too Late and Layover Nightmare in Japan.
It’s Never Too Late
As I walked by Kentucky Fried Chicken, I remembered it wasn’t too late. It wasn’t too late to realize a dream and make a mark. Though I always wanted to accomplish more things sooner than later, I reminded myself that it was never too late. Colonel Sanders opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise restaurant at the age of sixty-two. Despite his age, he continued to work hard and became a success in the sixth decade of his life. His story reminds me to keep moving and trying. What matters is not how old you are or when but whether or not you realize a dream.
Many years ago, I dreamed of becoming a professional public speaker. I did some research and quickly decided that it was too difficult. I didn’t have experience in the field, nor did I know what I could talk about. I just knew I wanted to speak.
I wanted to make a difference for children, so I became a teacher. My chance to speak in front of an audience daily was only a coincidence, and I did not consider teaching children to be public speaking.
After many years in education, I quit and entered the financial services industry. I attended some national conventions and was mesmerized by audience reactions to the speakers. Most of the speakers were not good, but the audience was most impressed with them. They cheered and applauded with excitement. That was because those who could stand on stage to speak earned a six to seven-figure income. They encouraged the audience to keep trying and not give up. They gave them hope while listening to their struggles to get to the top. I wanted the chance to speak on stage like those speakers, but I didn’t earn the right because I wasn’t making the dough.
A few years later, I got the opportunity to give some training or motivational speaking at my branch office because one of the leaders would be out of town. I suppose the leader asked me because he knew I had intriguing ideas and I was a teacher. He assumed I had no problem talking in front of an audience, so he called me to do the job. I enjoyed creating and presenting the presentations I prepared. Giving people some food for thought or technical knowledge made easy to understand was a most satisfying feeling.
Soon associates in the office asked me to help them with their sales presentations. They even offered to split the commission when I closed the deal for them. Many agreed that because I could concretely explain abstract concepts, customers understood. And because they understood the benefits of the products for their families, they wanted to buy them. I began to see that my speaking ability helped me make some money. I started to see how my teaching experience translating abstract concepts with concrete ideas to children helped me close deals.
I soon signed up to practice speaking through Toastmasters International. It was fun to give the speeches. It was like a hobby done just because I enjoyed it. I even won first place in my first speech competition with Toastmasters. Still, I could not think of any speech topics if I were to be a professional public speaker. I wanted to speak, but I had no identifiable purpose.
After completing the basic program in Toastmasters, there didn’t seem to be anything I could do to advance in the area. The only speaking I did was training or teaching others at work. I sat and pondered. Was I like the colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken? He had his delicious secret recipe for fried chicken, but nobody wanted to buy his chicken on a large scale. He was already over sixty, and there were not even any sympathy purchases for him. He must have been most frustrated. I hungered for my inner voice to be heard, but who would listen to me? Who would even know of my existence? I fell silent.
Ten years later, I found myself in a place where I no longer loved the work I had done before. Maybe I was tired of it, or it no longer gave me the satisfaction it once gave me. I decided to take some classes purely for enjoyment. One of them was writing. I wrote stories. They were personal stories. Each week we wrote a story and read it aloud in class. The instructor and other class participants would give feedback immediately. When I shared my stories, a feeling like I was floating in the clouds came over me. I was tickled with joy inside and wanted to write more stories to share. The audible voice that came out of me was the inside voice and the silent thoughts. Suddenly, I was no longer alone in hearing them. Smiles showed up on my face. Hearing my voice speaking my stories seemed to elevate me into the clouds. I floated into a dream world where everything was beautiful. My classmates commented that I inspired, moved, or gave them food for thought. The gasps of surprise in the eye-opening moments and the applause because they were touched motivated me to write even more.
Soon I took more writing courses and found great satisfaction in expressing my voice through the medium. The more I shared, the more I wanted to share. Sometimes, if I were talking on the phone with a friend, I would share my stories aloud with them. To my surprise, I would move them and give them food for thought. The responses energized me. Finally, I found my purpose.
I wanted to write and speak my stories to touch, move, and inspire others. With purpose, I shot forward to writing and publishing my first book. Finding meaning in expressing my voice, I published three more books the following year. Discovering the value of my stories, I completed two more books. Finishing six books in two years was amazing to me when the writer in me had laid dormant for decades.
I wished I had started sooner, but I was not motivated. When I finally found my purpose, I was writing like mad. Stopping or taking a break felt uncomfortable. I wish I didn’t need to sleep. I wish I didn’t need to go to my job to pay the bills. I wanted to write, write, and write. I wanted to speak, speak, and speak. I hurried to finish writing my stories, so I could express my voice and let my voice come out of my throat in a podcast.
Finally, my inner voice came outside of me. You can hear my voice on a podcast. You can see my stories on the printed pages of my books. My moments of adversity, encounters, and perspectives are for your eyes and ears. At last, I realize my dream of becoming a public speaker. Remember Colonel Sanders or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and you’ll say it’s never too late to make your dream come true.
Layover Nightmare in Japan
I was on my way back to Taiwan for another year of work abroad. I sorted out more things to bring and ended up with three suitcases full of clothes and other things. Feeling satisfied that I had more stuff at my disposal, I contentedly sat down on the airplane, ready for twelve hours of relaxation. Little did I know that the plane would throw all the passengers in a different direction away from our destination.
I was about an hour or two away from Taiwan and excited for the long plane ride to be over. Passengers were well-fed and well-entertained, but sitting in one seat for twelve hours was more than enough. Then on the intercom came an unexpected announcement that quickly vanquished my excitement into disappointment.
The captain informed us that there was a typhoon in Taiwan and that the airplane would need to take a detour and stop in Japan until the typhoon was over. How long we would layover in Japan was unknown as the passing of a typhoon could not be precisely determined. My first thought was that I would not make it back in time to go to work! But wait! Maybe there would be no work day. I didn't know. All I could think of was telling my boss that I could be late in getting back to work.
Soon we landed at Japan's international airport. We were given dinner vouchers and told to return to a specific spot in two hours. Hotel arrangements were being made for all the passengers while we ate dinner and waited. After getting a voucher, I proceeded to find a restaurant to have dinner. I set my backpack next to me, carted my three large suitcases over to an area where other people parked their luggage, and had my crossbody purse on me. I slowly ate dinner in the dim light at a counter seat, knowing I had two hours before reporting back to the designated spot.
After dinner, I pushed my cart with me as I walked around the airport aimlessly. Soon it was time to show up at the designated location. I was a bit early, and so was everyone else. As I stood there, I met another lady traveling alone, and we started a conversation. I began to feel less anxious and disappointed as I spoke with a friendly person. I even thought we could become friends as we found things in common.
Next, it was time to board the bus to take us to a hotel. I got on the bus, and the lady I had just met saved me a seat. It felt comforting and good to have a new friend at that moment. As workers loaded luggage under the bus and waited in our seats, I suddenly realized that I had left my backpack on the seat next to me when I was eating at the restaurant earlier. Panicked, I ran off the bus to tell the driver I had left my backpack at a restaurant. He said he would leave in ten minutes and that he would wait up to ten minutes for me.
Running back into the terminal, I looked left and right and didn't know where to go to find the restaurant. I quickly chose to go left. I ran up the escalator to another floor, walked around and around, and could not find the restaurant. The structure of all the stores and restaurants on the floor was circular. That is to say, all I had to do was walk in a circle, and I should find the restaurant, but there were several circular walkways, and I didn't know which one was the correct one.
I started to sweat, and my chest seemed to feel an acute pain as I ran; I was afraid I would not find the place in ten minutes. I stopped to ask a Japanese person where a restaurant with a coffee cup on the sign was, but he didn't understand English. I used my hand to gesture drinking coffee, but it didn't help me get any assistance. I ran some more but could not find the restaurant. I asked two more locals by gesturing, and none spoke English. Still panicked and frustrated, I was sweating from my forehead to both sides of my face. After trying to get help three times and not finding the restaurant's location, I stopped moving and was on the verge of tears. I turned to the right, and there was the restaurant I ate at for dinner. I finally found it!
I dashed into the restaurant and found my backpack sitting there, unmoved. I grabbed it and ran to the escalator to go down to the ground level. Amazingly, I quickly found the bus stop outside the terminal sliding doors, but the bus had left.
With my heart beating fast, I ran left and right to see who I could ask about the bus. Still sweating, I thought, the bus left with my three suitcases; I lost my large suitcases of my belongings. The spirits were laughing at me and punishing me, and I didn't know why. Soon I found a worker. He didn't understand English. I pointed to the invisible bus that I wanted to be there. I gestured with two hands to show a question mark. I was trying to say, "Where is the bus?" Luckily, the man pointed to a bus schedule to let me know that there would be a next bus coming. Still, I could not give a sigh of relief as I didn't know which hotel I was supposed to go to and did not know if the next bus would be the right bus to get me to the correct hotel. No one around me spoke English, and I knew my only choice was to take a chance and see where that next bus would go. Waiting in the darkness of night, the feeling of hopelessness and aloneness descended on me. I could see the headlines: Emily lost at Japan's airport, lost her luggage, and lost her hotel!
After nearly half an hour, a bus appeared. I got on it, hoping it would take me to the hotel where I was supposed to go. I couldn't ask the driver where it was going because I didn't know the name of my assigned hotel. I had been to many unfamiliar places before, but this time I felt so lost that I didn't even know what to ask to get help to get to the right place.
Before long, the bus pulled up to a hotel with glass walls in the front. I saw a lady standing inside the glass walls by the entrance, and I recognized my suitcases. Thank God, I said to myself. Now I breathed a sigh of relief. I collected my luggage and went to the reception desk. Thankfully, the clerk spoke a bit of English and granted me a hotel room provided by the airline.
I asked to use the internet but did not have any Japanese currency. Luckily, they accepted American dollars, which I still had in my wallet. I used it to pay for the use of the internet to send a message to my boss. My cell phone service did not include Japan, so I could not use my phone to call her. That was me trying to save a buck, and I soon learned it would be best if I had a phone plan that could be used internationally. At any rate, I sent a message to my boss that I would return later than expected since I was stuck in Japan. I let her know that I had three big suitcases and didn't know how I would lug them up five flights of stairs when I got back to Taiwan. Fortunately, she got my hint and replied that she would pick me up as soon as I knew my new flight information. Her kindness warmed my heart, and I began to feel better after the nightmare of an experience at Japan's airport.
Remembering the nightmare in Japan was heart-wrenching, but recalling my boss's kindness in Taiwan was heartwarming. Feeling most grateful that I escaped the nightmare unscathed, I came to appreciate Taiwan even more for its friendliness and love of learning or knowing English.
On the practical end, I learned I must carry a phone plan with international service, internet service, and a translating app. Sounds silly that I didn't have it, but I didn't. Lesson learned. I shall have no more such nightmares!
Key Takeaways: : Though it has taken many years for me to figure out my speaking topics to be a public speaker, all I had to remember was Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken to know that it was not too late for me.
Though I had a layover nightmare in Japan, I was fortunate to have safely arrived in paradise: Taiwan.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called A Heartless Man and The Warm Ice Cream. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!