Richard Langford, area manager, sandwich delivery company Age: 39. Career path: I was born in Cheltenham, England. In 1976 I began work as a clerical assistant in the Civil Service at Government Communications Headquarters in my home town. Nine years later I was transferred to London, and until 1987 worked for the Cabinet Office. I was then promoted and served in the Northern Ireland Office in London and Belfast doing administrative work. In 1993 I was granted a five-year career break. I've now done what I set out to do and travelled extensively around Europe, the United States and Asia. I landed here in 1994, when it was still easy for Brits to get jobs. I was a part-time English teacher in Causeway Bay until I joined Shamrock in July 1996, having defected from another sandwich company. Langford's Day:I'm single, and live on Cheung Chau island. During the week I wake up at 7 am and catch the 7.45 am ferry to arrive at the office in Hollywood Road at around 9 am. I used to have my own sandwich-selling beat in Central, but being area manager now as well as a sandwich deliverer I take different routes. If someone is sick I cover for them; if a round is not making money I might take that route to see what's wrong. Shamrock covers practically the whole of Hong Kong island, a large part of Kowloon and some areas of the New Territories. The sandwiches are made at dawn in a kitchen in Sai Ying Pun and carted to our office by van. I check that each delivery person gets their allotment, then take mine and set off, some time after 9 am. The first week anybody does this job their arm aches, but you get used to lugging the basket. We take public transport, then walk from building to building. Our sandwiches are usually sold by 1 pm and we return to the office. I listen to any problems the deliverers may have had then I count the takings, balance the computer and bank the money. I also train staff and make sure they know about the sandwiches and what the fillings are. We now have to employ more locals - half of the delivery people are Chinese - and I make sure they know how to relate to customers, 95 per cent of whom are western. This job is okay; deliveries are fun because you get to know your clients and the walking is good exercise. I also get free food all week. Sometimes I come in on Saturdays to catch up on administrative work. Ambition: My career break is up at the end of the month. I don't like London, but I can't be a sandwich-seller forever, so my most pressing ambition is to make the hard decision to stay or leave. Salary: Between $10,000 and $15,000 a month. I'm paid according to sales, so if the company does well I get more. Lee Chung Wing, postman Age: 30. Career path: I was born in Hong Kong and went to school in Sheung Wan. I repeated Form Five and decided to give up on school because I had lost interest by then. After leaving I got my first job, as a clerk for a telephone manufacturing company. A year later I decided to join the Civil Service because I knew about the perks of working there. I joined the Royal Mail in 1987. My first job was as an indoor postman, which means I circulated the mail internally in the General Post Office in Central, sorted letters and emptied the collection boxes on the street. In 1993 I became a delivery postman and since then I have worked on the same beat in Sheung Wan. Once you have been assigned a beat it is accepted that you stay on it until you retire, die or insist you be moved. Hongkong Post believe it's good to keep one person on one beat as long as possible, so I guess I'll just keep doing my same eight buildings. Lee's day: I am single and live in Sha Tin. I catch the MTR to work six days a week and arrive at the General Post Office at 8 am. I collect my letters from various parts of the building. I take them to my desk and put them in pigeon holes according to street, building, floor and room number. I usually have around 1,000 letters and the sorting takes me about an hour. Over the years I have got much quicker because I instantly recognise names and addresses and can glance at envelopes and know where to put them. After the letters are sorted and bound into bundles I collect my registered letters and Speed Post mail from other departments in the office and pack my pouch. I start delivering at 10 am to my buildings. I am back in the office at 11.30 am and have lunch at the canteen or outside. I start the same routine again at 12.30 pm and go out for my second delivery of the day at 2 pm. I finish at 4 pm and go home. I like this job. There is a sense of helping people, and because we do one beat for years we get to know the people and the neighbourhood. It's stable and secure work and I get 31 days' leave. Work is only really hectic in the month before Christmas, and if I don't have too many registered letters or parcels to deliver I can do the job at a comfortable pace. The maximum weight we are allowed to carry is 20 kilograms. If there is more, which is not often, letters are brought to us en route by a colleague and our pouches are refilled. Ambition: There are prospects of becoming a senior postman and I would like this because my salary would go up. I love travelling and would like to travel more. Salary: HK$16,000 a month. Douglas Hansen-Luke wishes it to be known that the figure of $4 million, quoted as his salary in Parallel Lives on April 5, was exaggerated by 'an order of several magnitudes'.