Migrant worker's moving leave application letter goes viral | South China Morning Post
  • Tue
  • Mar 31, 2015
  • Updated: 12:32am
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 9:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 11:39am

Migrant worker's moving leave application letter goes viral


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for SCMP.com. Amy can be reached at chunxiao.li@scmp.com, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

Like many hard-working domestic helpers in Hong Kong, a large number of China’s more than 260 million migrant workers live in cities far from their rural home towns. Their lives are hard and sometimes they are forced to leave behind their spouses and children.

One such worker runs a hair salon “Jian Ba” in Hunan’s Zhuzhou city. His working life means he is separated from his little daughter for so long she no longer remembers how to say ”Daddy".

“Dear customers, I got a call from my daughter yesterday. Since I haven’t been around for so long, she couldn’t even say the word ‘daddy’, said the migrant worker, whose real name was not disclosed, in an emotionally-charged note attached to the front gate of his temporarily-closed shop.     

“The money you spent your youth to make won’t buy back your youth, and the money you make sacrificing happy times won't buy back happy times that have lapsed,” he wrote in a rather philosophical manner. “And why not act on our honest thoughts - even if it means to leave suddenly?”

Apparently that’s what he did. “And, therefore, I plead to take one week off to visit my family,” he wrote.

The note, dated August 11, soon received several hand-written comments after being noticed by former clients. 

“Your leave is approved,” reads a comment, “And I will grow my hair for one week until you are back.”

The heartfelt note, after being published by Zhuzhou’s local paper, was reposted on Weibo and online forums, where bloggers sympathised with the hairdresser and applauded his courage.

Although it's just one week's escape from the daily grind, the way this man emphasised the importance of his family over work attracted much admiration - even envy. 

“I wonder if there’ll be piles of notes like this lying on my boss’ desk tomorrow,” one microblogger wrote.

"I wish I could just take off like him," others wrote.


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