I was a supervisor in the aerospace workshop when a tough ex-con, who worked in the hanger, approached me for help. Having straightened himself out, he was afraid for his kid brother, Somu, who was hanging out with street gangs. It was the 1970s and the police were waging an all-out campaign to rid the country of gangs. There was every risk that Somu might be arrested.

Would I be willing to employ Somu as a labourer in my workshop?

I had two conditions: Don’t interfere with my training regime and if Somu did not work out, I’ll fire him and this should not affect our friendship. Somu’s brother agreed.

I spoke to my boss, an old world gentleman from New Zealand, and Somu started work as a labourer – sweeping, cleaning and helping the mechanics. He was heavily tattooed and had ear piercings long before it became a fashion statement.

I did not make it easy for him and gave him plenty of overtime, which effectively curtailed his leisure hours.

In the 1980’s when I made workshop manager, I packed him off for specialist training in the UK. Back then, such overseas travel was a rare and sought-after privilege. While in the UK, I suggested he take a week off on vacation “to visit the excellent museums.” Somu did take that week off but I don’t think the museums formed part of his itinerary.

When I left the MNC in the 1990s, Somu was already a highly qualified technician and a certified NDT inspector. He married a beautiful woman and they have a lovely family.

Somu made it to workshop supervisor and remains gainfully employed in the aerospace industry.

He still wears silver earrings.

(Somu was one of four young school dropouts whom my supervisors and I nurtured over the years and sent for training in the UK and USA. Subsequently, the company put in place a formal apprenticeship program)

********** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2012 **********


  1. Beautiful story and very inspiring 🙂 I believe in this sayings too: Luke 6:38 King James version: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your lap. For with the same measure that you measure it shall be measured to you again.
    God bless you and your family Eric 🙂

    1. Hello Dolly,

      Excellent choice of quotation from Luke. As we give, we receive…

      Thank you my dear, for your friendship. Luv and peace to you and yours, Eric 🙂

  2. Eric, this is such a wonderful story! This is the kind of thing that warms my heart and gives me faith in humanity! Thank you for what you did for Somu and thank you for sharing!


    1. You are very welcome Cindy.

      I am also a firm believer that as we give, we receive – check out my next post about my son, Adamson.

      Luv and peace, Eric

    1. Thank you Kilroy, glad you found them so.

      Some of my blog “followers” here have worked with me for several decades. They are familiar with these episodes. One of them even suggested that I write a book about my work life as she found it ‘interesting’ – I might do so one day, for family records (not an autobiography but more as a collection of snippets). Meanwhile, we have these little episodes…

      Peace, Eric

    1. Yay to Somu too 🙂

      I was a little reluctant to write about this and similar stories (all true) as I felt some might take it as boastful…but then, if we are reluctant to write about positives…Glad that our blogging community is taking this in the spirit I meant – as hope, encouragement and perhaps a little reminder to do right.

      All good wishes Eva, from Eric 🙂

      1. Eric, I think you did a great job with Somu and I will bet he still thanks you for giving hin a chance. You are by far the best blogger on wordpress….and elsewhere…so talented, insightful, wise, and warm!

    1. Thank you Tracy/TC,

      I have always tried (failed miserably many times) to live by certain principles – years later I discovered these ‘principles’ already reflected in the Bible. To live one word is better than preaching a million, I reckon…

      Peace and love to you both, Eric

  3. Out of the “tough old Bird” genre’, my State of Ohio YOUTH CORRECTIONS management positioned MOTHER came to visit me in Reno, Nevada while I was working at opening the MGM Grand show HELLO-HOLLYWOOD-HELLO. I’d Just put in MY first earring , as she left for Ohio she tweaked my ear and cooed “How CUTE”. Years later, and eleven more earrings in ONE ear PLUS the addendums of tattoos my Grandmother had an idea to shutter her Daughter. On my left calf was put a 3″ x 9″ redition of the CHESHIRE CAT’S Smile, the crux being that for all of Mom’s edu the chapter and story-line of the tattoo would kill the chiding. At a family picnic the culmination fell, Mom pointed out the “offending” art whereupon her Mother asked what the thing was , Daughter answered correctly. THEN her Mother asked WHAT CHAPTER and situation “it” represented, stumping Mom.
    We are “of” African descent… The ‘smile’ was the final vision just before Alice went to see the RED QUEEN and to fight the JABERWOCKY. It was the shadow of his smile as He disappeared from “the big brown limb” of the tree he was teaching from.

    You ALWAYS have the BEST teaching aids!

  4. Hello Eric what a great story and it doesn’t matter what package people come in as their eyes hold the key….you have sparked a lovely memory for me thank you – love and hugs to you and Lisa xxx

  5. Not what you look like, not even your past full of mistakes is important. Only what and who you are is what matters. Even a silly young girl like me knows that. But you can say that so much better.
    Not so silly Steph (what a nice alliteration, there is a poet in,me deep down)
    Love and hugs, (before I forget).

    1. Very true Steph.

      Everyone knows this, everyone says this but how many act on it – when they wield the position and power…

      I once interviewed a woman for a HR position in my company. She worked in a small firm – about 20 people – and was intent on impressing me of her candidature.

      The entire staff of 20 was made up of one ethnic group – the same group she belonged to. She could not explain how this came about – yet moments earlier, she made it clear that she shortlisted and selected all the staff.

      I wished her well…

      Luv and hugz, Eric

      1. So true, we now it and we do not act according to our knowledge and as in your example we even refuse to see that we do not act as we should.

        Love and hugs


  6. Some people really deserves a second chance and they make good use of it. But blessed is the one who accord this chance and not judge them by “tatoos” and “ear-rings” and all the hunky stuff they put on. Takes a gem to identify another rare gem.

    1. Oh you are too kind Jasey.

      People appeared from no where and gave me a leg-up now and then…I bowed with thanks, and while I was down there – thought I would merely leg-up someone on my way back.

  7. That is fantastic. I really appreciated hearing that. It reminds me of my Dad who had his own business and would train people that others might not give a chance!

    1. That is lovely Terri – perhaps you could post a flash-post about your Dad. This world moves to the unholy mantra of “I-Me-Myself” and we need to hear more of people stepping out to help strangers…

      All good wishes, Eric

    1. Congratulations on having landed this nomination, Ela. I need to visit your blog more often 🙂

      Thank you also for passing it on. I shall get round to posting it when I catch some time.

      All good wishes, Eric
      P/s: I responded with a comment in your blog and it went to your spam, I reckon. The spam regulators have something against me I think – and I paid my subscriptions 🙂

      1. Thank you so much Eric, you are too kind to me. Congratulations!!!! 🙂
        Oh, I will definitely look for your comment, It is true that I have loads of spam … 🙁
        And yes, I would be very happy to see you visiting more often. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jyoti,

      True that goodness hides within all – in some, it hides so very deep, I reckon, and as you say, takes time to break out….

      All good wishes, Eric

  8. Thank you, Eric, for making a difference in someone’s life. It is risky to get involved with people who are struggling. This is a beautiful and inspiring story, and I hope it will encourage others to follow your example. Some people just need one more chance!

    1. Thank you for stopping by with your nice words.

      We all do what we reckon is right and let God be the judge – it does not matter whether we succeed or fail, the very sincerity of the act suffices, I reckon. Of course, when it succeeds, it encourages us to do more. My team and I legged-up four lads – all doing well now. I had a great team.

      I enjoy your posts too.

      All good wishes, Eric
      P/s: Please do visit your spam folder and release my comments from ‘spamatory’ 🙂

    1. Hello Ned,

      Glad that you popped over with a comment. My comments on your posts are eaten up by that ‘spam’ monster I reckon. Please look into your spam folder and set them free. Thanks 🙂

      I am Singaporean but did work in Oz for five years.

      Well, Grandpa said, power and position are for two purposes – to do one’s job well and to help others. Use it for anything else and it is probably an abuse.

      All good wishes, Eric

    1. Thank you dear. We should all strive to help at least one person along – if everyone did that, everyone! – it will come back over and over and uplift all of us, I reckon. Of course, if we help more than one…much better 🙂

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