Their coffee is good (submitted short story)

Trần Thế Phong

New Member
Họ và Tên : Trần Thế Phong
Lớp A2-04-07 (cựu học sinh)
Trường hiện tại: Anglo-Chinese School Independent (Singapore)



In a quiet corner of the huge National Library, a youth, holding his rough chin, with his eyes shut, seemed to be deep in his thoughts. Now, Linh was having a choice to choose, the choice which might shape his future, the choice of his coming years, the choice which he would take as seriously as a real adult. What he would do now, after graduating, to take an easy life here, in this developed country, or go back to Vietnam, be an officer and waste his talent.

After 3 years studying business in NTU, Singapore, he had earned as much as one could do, first-class honour, distinguished achievements with dozens of world-class prizes, not even mentioning numberless small projects and competitions which he had won. Government scholar, no bonding, that was the best part. Now, when he had just graduated, the hunger for success was already roaring in him, the thirst for fame was burning him up, they coaxed him, persuaded him, forced him to go out there to conquer everything, for the world was his stage to show off, the Times’ title of “The Man of the Year” was for him to take, and the throne of the coming greatest empire was waiting for him to seat on. He would become the best businessman the world had ever known, the richest billionaire that man had ever had, the most talented CEO one could imagine. The ambition was eating him up, for he could hardly waited for the moment he would beat Dell, claim Bill Gates’ title, take Meg Whitman’s place, the moment he would be “The One”, for which he had prepared for a long time. In front of him was Orin Smith winking enigmatically on the Times, with a coffee cup labelled “Starbuck”.

Getting out of the library, the line of thought was flowing continuosly, tirelessly, endlessly in him. The choices he was having now seemed to be easy to choose. Go back to Vietnam and be an officer was like spelling “doom” to his career. He had studied well enough to know what he would become when he come back. He would be transferred to somewhere, an unknown institution, be a slacker and let his life pass by, as peaceful and slacking as it could be, with no position for him, nothing to do and throw away what he had studied. In the others’ eyes, he would be a monster who would take their places, and for that, he would never be assigned a small project even to entertain himself. There were too many people who went that same way, and no, he was not too stupid to be the next one. Life was like that, there were always someone who envied your talent and do everything to trouble you, even that was a lose-lose situation for both.

He had thought of going back and worked for a foreign company, where his knowledge might be appreciated and used. However, if he had chosen to work for a foreign company, why didn’t he work here, where everything was as perfect and wonderful for business as fairies. In here, he had the chance to work with world class businessmen, top CEOs, professional salesmen, to work for famous multinational- corporations, global companies. The salary was not a matter to him, the important thing was, in here, his talent would be recognized and respected. His wisdom would never be wasted. There were a lot here to learn, much more to experience, and it was a win-win situation for both.

Deep in his mind, the furthest and blurriest corner, there was a dream, the dream in which, Vietnam, his beloved nation would be rich, wealthy; everyone could live as fully as he desired. Vietnam would stand besides words like “powerful”, ”great”, “supreme”, instead of “debt”, “poor” and “war”. His childhood dream was to lead the nation to a position where she would overcome Japan, pass America and beat China. He would devote everything for the land where he was bred and born, he would fight for the home where he had been raised and brought up.The motherland blood had still been flowing in him. However, when he landed here, he was distracted. It was not the perfect life had attracted him, but the ambition, the yearning for success had possessed him, eclipsed that sweet childhood memory. The oath he had sworn to himself, now, had sunk to the deepest abyss.

Accidentally, Linh walked inside a shopping centre, and ironically, struck into his eyes were three of the most famous brands in the world: Nokia, Starbuck and Airbus, which were offering him satisfactory positions, which would only exist in his friends’ dreams. The money would be enough for him to live as luxuriously as a king; the positions would be suitable for his profession. Among three Nokia paid the best, while Starbuck paid a little lower but offered him a flat and Airbus, though paid not as high as the other two, they gave him the choice of the country in where he wanted to work. He preferred Airbus, for he had a chance to had new experience of working in other countries. The wings were there for him to soar, to fly, to tear the sky. Nevertheless, he felt Nokia would not be a bad choice. He had experienced working for Nokia when he was still a student, and he knew that not every company could offer him the condition to work as at Nokia. His decision had to be made as soon as possible, for the day after was the deadline for him to give them his answer, which would probably be the answer that changed his life, but he had not had a goddamn clear decision. It must have been better if a coin had three faces.

Now, let us leave our on-the-way-to-success hero here in his thoughts and on the wings of time, we wind up two days to hear a different conversation between two friends:
-Have you met Linh ? Heard he had given his decision yesterday. I wonder which one he chose. You know, three gigantic companies.
-Yeah, I bumped into him 2 days ago, when he was considering them. So I took him into a café to relax. Sometimes, coffee makes people become really strange. After drinking the first cup, he suddenly stood up and went away, with a board smile on his face. He looked weird.
-Why? I have always drink Starbucks and nothing has ever happened .
- But to him, “yes”. Yesterday he refused all three offers and founded a company himself, with Vietnam, as the first and main target. By the way, Starbucks closed yesterday so I took him to a Vietnamese café called Trung Nguyen. Their coffee is good.

Trần Thế Phong
Chỉnh sửa lần cuối bởi người điều hành:
dạ, em muốn Edit cho cái font nó to lên một ít được không ah?
thế này đã đc chưa em? :) gửi thêm cho chị địa chỉ email của em trong phần personal details nhé.
Chỉnh sửa lần cuối:
............................. he is so........................

is career everything to a man?
oh holy.... I was just about to send him the link to this writing. thank God I haven't do that. but he will surely know about it someday... and he worths it... so do you :)
Chỉnh sửa lần cuối:
and, your coffee is good, my dear friend :)
Comments from the Writing Contest Board of Examiners

“Nice connection but given too much of author's biased opinions, good ending though”

“This is an interesting story even though it looks more like an essay than a real story because there is not much going on except for Linh's brainstorm. It doesn't have a real plot. The writing flows pretty well despite some grammatical errors common to non-natives. I am not convinced that Linh has always thought about contributing to his country because in his ramblings, all the benefits and fame he could possibly gain from enslaving himself to a foreign firm always comes first, then his thought about Vietnam came as a second thought, so I am not convinced by the ending which shows that he is so pro-Vietnam's growth. Also, the part about his bleak expectation of working as an official is rather vague because not enough information is provided. Why would he be a slacker there? I feel that he can delve a little more into that”.

“This is a story of hopeful ambition. The struggle as outlined is of a young man making a career choice. Offered several positions with multi-national companies, he ultimately rejects them all, opting instead for a "patriotic" choice of growing his own company in his home country. The ending suggests that the young man's decision was inspired by drinking a local blend of coffee, rather than the usual multi-national brand (which was presumably uninspiring). I would have like to have seen better developed thoughts in this story. Certainly, dreaming of personal success and prosperity for one's country is all well and good, but the story suggests no depth beyond that. The choices facing our young hero are real choices that face young people today, but an inspiring cup of local coffee only affords a quick and easy ending without grappling with the real issues that would have made it a better story. For example, the young man could have just as patriotically gone to work for one of the multi-nationals to learn, mature and hone his business theories with an intent to begin his own business better equipped and better funded in a few short years. A story about such a subject needs to ask the hard questions that the young people themselves ask of themselves to provoke meaningful thought”.

“Early submission. Ending is a surprise but not too persuading”.
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