By Younas Chaudhary
In the mid 1970’s, I worked as a maintenance technician fixing air conditioning units, adjusting room temperature, fixing water heaters, boilers, and similar things at a Westin hotel in Edmonton, Canada called The Edmonton Plaza Hotel. My wife, Bushra, worked as a dishwasher at a newly opened Four Seasons Hotel nearby. We both were new immigrants to Canada and life was tough. Like other immigrants, we struggled a lot.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, Bushra and I visited Edmonton to see where we had worked three decades earlier. I vividly remembered my old job location, a non-descript maintenance room in the basement of the Westin hotel. The side door to enter the basement was familiar and I was shockingly surprised to run into my former assistant boss, Albert, who was still there and now he was the head boss. He did not recognize me initially perhaps due to my nice clothes or my age. Later, he remembered who I was and soon found out that I was staying in the Presidential Suite at that hotel. I also stayed in the Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons where Bushra had worked as a dishwasher. Albert looked baffled but was delighted to see my success and happy to hear about my oil and gas business ventures.
I had arrived in Edmonton with just $30 in my pocket. The first few months in the city were so horrible that I thought I would freeze to death! On wintry nights, I would stand in bone chilling cold, on the corner of 109th Street and Jasper Avenue, and due to a local bus strike, I had to to hitch a ride from strangers who would be kind enough to drive me home.
Memories of those struggles came back to mind as I walked through the side door of the Westin three decades later. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that I, a lowly maintenance technician, would stay in their most expensive hotel room without worrying about money. The feeling was indescribable, and emotional.
I had the same feelings on another occasion. A group of wealthy investors, mostly doctors, around Wichita, Kansas, had invested with me to buy and operate oil and gas wells with them. When oil prices fell in mid-1980’s, we suffered losses and they started blaming me for their misfortune and took me to court. They wanted to pull out their investments and I negotiated with them, purchased their stake, and worked hard. Oil prices climbed back up in a few months and I made good money with that deal. Several years later, I visited them. They were stunned when they heard where I was in life. Most had thought I would have failed miserably.
I learned an important lesson in life from these experiences. When you run after money, the money will run far away from you. However, if you work hard, be consistent, stay kind to others, keep your promises and remain humble, money will follow you and eventually come to you in abundance.
For all the naysayers who say immigrants have few opportunities in the West, all I can tell them is that it is sheer nonsense. Never believe them because it is an excuse for laziness. My experience clearly shows the abundance of opportunities in North America and how with tenacity, perseverance, and integrity one can reach greater heights.
Each time I visit where I came from, I feel the blessings I received in life. Thanks to all the prayers of my parents and from all my well-wishers. You do not need to be super smart to succeed. All you need is the zeal to persevere, get back up when you fall, and always do the right thing. Blessings.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.