Warnings in January 2007

Last week was wild. I had a bunch of this issue’s assignments in front of me when, of course, I decided to clean out my desk. It’s not really my desk. I share it, but one of the drawers is mine, and I’ve been using it for years. I was the kind of guy in university who had clothes on his floor everyday until exam time. I had to do something while everyone was studying, so I cleaned. Though I’ve gotten much more organized over the years, I’ve still got the habit of procrastinating. My drawer was clean, and everything was tidy, but I thought it still needed to be gone through; I had to throw some of the stuff away – anything but write my assignments. I tossed old bank notes and crumpled receipts until I got to a stack of pictures. They were from the days before digital when the print shops still gave you that old-fashioned white border around them. There I was. Full head of hair surrounded by hundreds of kids dressed in a rainbow of colorful and very thick clothes. They all had these little red scarves around their necks. The auditorium had newly installed aluminum windows that were mostly open. I remember being cold. It was the school’s Christmas and New Year celebration. I was hosting the event, and because it was only one of the few private language schools with native English speakers, it was a huge deal. A leather jacketed news man held his camera high in the background. I thought about that year, and I thought about the last. In retrospect, it’s just amazing how much things have changed. This month, I’m not going to warn you. I’m going to thank you. I’m stealing the idea from Time magazine, and this month my person of the year is going to be you too. We can’t afford to put a mirror on the cover like they did, but we trust you’ve seen enough of yourselves anyway. You people are to thank for all that has changed.

Now I’m not turning soft on you. I’m not exactly going to thank all of you. I’m thanking that guy who opened that coffee shop before people liked coffee. I’m thanking that person who taught their suppliers how to get more business. I’m thanking that restaurateur who started taking reservations. I’m thanking that traveler who posted about us on some blog. Those beautiful West Lake photos on the net are there thanks to you. YouTube has over 250 entries on Hangzhou. Thank you. You remember when you recommended that the head office give your department managers a raise? They didn’t agree, but allocated it anyway? That’s what I’m talking about. You’re awesome. So what if Dairy Queen can’t get their hotdogs exactly right. Their Blizzards rock. I know sometimes things don’t feel like they’re going well enough – maybe not fast enough. Trust me when I say I can feel for you. Not enough cash, not enough praise. Forget it for a day. Had it not been for your persistence, it would have been far worse. Thanks for putting up with it all.

Just over two years ago, we had an idea to make a magazine that would help people get around town. We wanted it to be simple and easy. We wanted you to get out of bed and enjoy – leave that apartment or hotel for a change. In our first issue we only had two 1/9 page advertisements that were actually paid for. Now it’s a different story. Thanks for the praise (and the criticism). We couldn’t have done it without you.

By Tim Hoerle