Xi Men and Xiao You entered the lobby of Xi Men Corporation.
“Huge building you have here,” Xiao You smiled, as she looked around the busy lobby.
“Oh yeah, this is the first time you came to my office,” he said, as he turned to look at her.
Xiao You nodded.
“But you’ll get used to it,” Xi Men said.
Xi Men ignored Xiao You’s reaction, “Anyway… Xiao You,” he stopped walking.
“Hmmm?” Xiao You stopped as well and she looked at him.
“Remember I told you I have something to show you?” he stood in front of her.
“Yeah, that is why I came to your office, right? And… I hope you are not telling me you want to show it to me in this lobby? I thought it is in your CEO room,”
Xi Men smiled as he reached for her left hand and he holds it. “You are right, I am showing it to you here,” he then dives his hand into his pants pocket to take out a key. He then puts the key down in her hand. “This is yours,”
“What is this?” Xiao You asked, looking at the key in her hand.
“The key to your new office,”
Xi Men smiled. “Yes, it is all ready now. You only need to set an auspicious date to start your business,”
“Wait, what office?” she frowned.
He smiled as he looked at her lovingly. “It is a…” [*respond is intentionally left blank by author]
Her eyes widened up and she is stunned upon hearing what he said.
*Flashback to about one and a half month ago.
“Alright, sir, I will arrange and set up appointments as we have just discussed,” Secretary Xu said as he scribbled on his notepad.
“Thanks,” Xi Men said as he tried to follow up with the emails. “Secretary Xu… how did my father cope with the company when I wasn’t around for the last 3 weeks?”
“Yes. Be honest with me,” Xi Men said, remained scrolling on the emails.
“Actually, President Xi Men came to work complaining everyday about the projects. He mixes up with projects, or keeps asking me each and every project what it is all about… and I don’t know all projects, but there are some that I know and I have been explaining the same project everyday to him or every other day and he will go ‘so, this is THAT project’ and so on. He postponed a lot of projects’ meetings because he didn’t know what kind of project it is,” Secretary Xu said.
“So that means I have a lot of mess to settle,” Xi Men said.
Suddenly, Secretary Xu panicked. “I… I am sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, I…”
Xi Men immediately turned to look at Secretary Xu. “Why are you apologizing? I am saying my father leaves me a lot of mess to settle because he misses the project meetings,”
“But I don’t mean to say President Xi Men like that…”
“You didn’t say that. I did,” Xi Men said. “And you are honest. That is what I want. At least I know how and what to expect. I don’t want to really go to a meeting not knowing what happened, or make things worse,” he turned his head to look at the computer screen again.
“Umm… alright…” Secretary Xu said.
He looked at Xi Men turned quiet as he (Xi Men) looked at the computer screen.
“If… if there is nothing anymore, I…”
“Yes, there is,” Xi Men said, and he looked at Secretary Xu, who is sitting in front of him. Xi Men clasped his hands. “If I am not mistaken, we have an unoccupied floor here. Level 5 I supposed?”
“Errr… level 5 has been used by the MIS department to store the computers and servers, sir,”
Xi Men frowned. “Is it by permission?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. You approved it 4 years ago,”
“4… 4 years ago? Really…?” Xi Men’s eyes strayed as he totally had no recollection about it.
“Then other than level 5, do we have any other unoccupied floors here? The lower the floor; the better,”
“Hmmm. Oh. We have Level 3, sir,”
“Level 3? Perfect!” Xi Men excitingly said, and suddenly it dies down and he frowned. “Eh, isn’t that level being occupied by sales department?”
“Was, sir. 2 years ago, after renovation has been done on Level 12, you have asked the staffs sitting at Level 3 to move up to Level 12 since Level 12 has a lot of empty seats and also better lighting due to the new layout after the renovations compared to the existing office outline in Level 3 and you said you want to renovate Level 3 after the staffs moved,”
Xi Men placed his hand on his head as he tried to remember. “Now that you have mentioned, I remember slightly about that. So, I renovated Level 3 after that?”
“Errr… sir, you didn’t,”
“Sir, you said you will inform me when it is the right time to start renovation…”
“But that was like 2 years ago!”
“I know, sir,”
“Why didn’t you remind me?”
“I did, after two times, you asked me not to remind you anymore and you will tell me instead. So…”
“Urgh…” Xi Men immediately scratches his head. “I have totally forgot about that,”
“So… do you want to renovate it now? We need to call for contractors to come and take measurements and then design an outline for you…”
“SIGH,” Xi Men sighed. “So disappointed with myself,” he said, glancing over to the computer screen. “Anyway,” he looked at Secretary Xu. “It is good as well that Level 3 is unoccupied. I think it is a perfect location. Check my schedule and see which day is okay to fit in an hour for me to meet up with the contractor. I want to renovate the entire floor. The lighting, the ceiling, the flooring, all will have to be redone,”
“Oh… okay…” Secretary Xu frowned as he scribbles down.
“Oh, if can, ask him to get an interior designer to join along during that one hour meeting. A good one with perfect eye for creativity,” Xi Men added.
Secretary Xu frowned. “Creativity?”
“Yeah,” Xi Men replied.
“Umm… okay…” Secretary Xu remained frowning as he writes them down.
“I am going to change the entire floor into a safe, secure and fun environment for kids,”
Secretary Xu immediately stared at Xi Men. “Kids?”
“Oh, I plan to change the entire floor to a private kindergarten and a child care center,”
“Private kindergarten and a child care center?!” Secretary Xu exclaimed. He then immediately covered his mouth with his hands since he had practically yelled too loud.
Xi Men frowned at Secretary Xu’s reaction. “What’s with the reaction?”
“I… I am just… surprised,” Secretary Xu still remained shocked.
“This is nothing new, Secretary Xu,” Xi Men said, as he turned and looked at his email. “You know there are some companies adopting this concept for their employees,”
“But may I know… why?” Secretary Xu asked. “I mean… why the sudden? I haven’t heard you mention before, and… sir, you are pretty much confirmed you will do this…”
Xi Men smiled. “It is for my future wife,”
The lift opened at Level 3, revealing a locked glass door. But behind the glass door, the entire place is colorful and lively.
“You mean, you renovated the whole floor for this…?” Xiao You asked as she stood in front of the glass door.
“Yes, I dedicated the whole floor to set up a private kindergarten and day care center for you. Right now it is only the entire floor of Level 3, though I don’t know if I need any expansion… but that will come later under your planning. This is the best location, because level 2 is an open café so I can extend the public access from Level 2 to Level 3, allowing the public to send their kids over. Anyway, I will get to that in a bit,” Xi Men smiled.
“Xi Men… why are you doing this? You know I didn’t ask this from you,” she looked at him.
“Of course you didn’t. In fact, there is a likelihood you wouldn’t ask from me even if you really want to,” he laughed. “But have you forgotten you did ask me if I will give you a job?”
“It was a casual question and you said you will give me job as a ‘wife’, and you know very well that is not the answer I am looking for too,” Xiao You said. “I am indeed interested to have a job on my own, but I can’t believe you are taking my casual question so seriously that you build this place up just for me,”
“It was a casual question when you asked that two days ago, but I am already building this place up before your official transfer to Taiwan. Actually, you told me before about how much you love working with kids, in fact, when I was idling in Toronto and you asked me to sit at your kindergarten, I also see for myself how passionate you are with the job. Besides, I also know you don’t really like staying at home and do nothing so I already planned for all of this way before I go back to work. Yes, I start with these planning in my head since the flight back to Taiwan. I believe your heart must have felt heavy when you tendered your resignation. I feel bad that you have to let go of everything there for me, so for your ‘compensation’, this is for you,”
She turned her gaze to the beautiful, lively and cheerful environment in front of her.
“And let me repeat myself: I am doing this for you because I don’t want you to sit at home and rot and then starts complaining to me about how bored life at home is. And I better get this up fast before you start submitting your resume to some schools or kindergarten and then get hired elsewhere,”
Xiao You laughed.
“And before I begin, I want to tell you something first. I know how tiring it is to do everything on your own, so I am telling you; I only want you to manage these 2 places. I understand you will do some tasks or manage some kids on your own because I know the satisfaction that comes out from it but that is about it. I will only allow up to that extent because I don’t want you to overdo, overwork and overstress it. I do not want to see you too tired from doing this, which is why I hired people to do these jobs for you. So don’t make me pay them for nothing like what you did to the maids that came to our house,”
Xiao You laughed again.
“Now, you can open the door,” he signaled.
Xiao You looked at the keyhole at the glass door, and then she inserted the key and turned it to unlock. Xi Men smiled as he pushes the glass door and with another hand holding hers, they walked in.
Inside the office/segment/center, “Next time when this place starts operating, everyone will need to take off their shoes and placed it at these shoes rack,” he pointed at the shoes rack next to the door. “You will have your own in-house shoes to wear so your feet will always be clean from stepping on food residue the kids may spill,”
Xiao You laughed. “Gosh, you are so funny,”
Xi Men smiled as he then lifted up his eyes, and she followed before she then looked straight. “The contractor did a very good job with the renovations; and the interior designer designs very well on how to mix and match the colors. The floor is layered with a thick rubbery type carpet of all colors which is very attractive to kids, and also as you can see, this type allows easy clean-up if the kids spill food or something that would dirties the floor,” he said, and upon hearing it, Xiao You bends down and touched as well as pressed the floor.
“This is high quality rubber carpet,” she then stands up.
“Yes, indeed. Only the best,” he smiled. “So… this is the receptionist area to handle and provide customer service,” he pointed at the long table in front of them. “There are teachers’ room for the teachers hired for your kindergarten, daycare helper’s room, staff lounge, kids lounge, kids canteen, lavatories, medical care room… you have everything here,”
Xiao You smiled. “It seems that you did your research,”
“Yes I do,” Xi Men admitted, and not elaborating further about that matter (yet), “And, did you see the room there?” he pointed slightly further.
“Yeah,” she looked at Xi Men pointed to a super huge room.
“That is your room,” he said.
He then gently pulled her as they head to the stated room. “I specifically asked them to build a room for you so that you can sit in and do your work like a true boss would,” he said as they enter the unlocked room. “I carefully picked the furniture for your room so that not only it shows you are the boss, but it also depicts the kind of person you are, and of course, only the comfortable ones make to the list,”
“But isn’t the room slightly too big for…me?” she looked around at the room and she sees a whole stretch of cabinets and her ‘boss’ table as well as a long table but the room still have plenty of space.
“I don’t think so. If I could partition a bigger one, I would. This is also your meeting table, in case you want to have a meeting with your staffs. Since this place is going to be full with children, sometimes it is pretty hard for you to find a place to hold your meeting so I guess this will be the right place,”
“Wow, you really prepared everything,” Xiao You said.
He smiled. “Oh, if there is a need, I might add another table here so that Emily can do her school work here while we worked though I highly doubt there is a need for it since Emily’s class ends just an hour before our working hour ends but this is just a suggestion which you can decide if you want to put that table or not. So, just like you want it, you have a job to keep, doing what you like to do, and at the same time you can take care of Emily,”
Xiao You smiled slightly.
“Just in case you are wondering, I am calling this place as private kindergarten because it is placed inside my building and that you can teach and guide them; and a daycare center because you can take care of them just like the way you have done in Toronto, where parents could leave their children with you to learn, study and play while they are at work. But just remember not all kids will be enrolled for both kindergarten and day care, some may go for both, but some is only enrolled to just one,”
Xiao You nodded. “Okay, I will remember,”
“This place will open from 8am to 7pm, to allow time for parents to drop and pick up kids,” he smiled, and then he looked at her, “And you, you don’t have to adhere to these working hours. The allowable working hours for you are from 9am to 6pm; and if you don’t feel like coming to work, it is fine with me too. Since you are the boss, you will make your decision when you want to come in or not,”
“But why 9am to 6pm?”
“That is my working hours. So you will follow my working hours, we will go to work and finish our work together,”
Xiao You laughed as she puts a hand on her forehead. “Goodness, Xi Men, you are a workaholic. You will definitely overshoot those hours,”
“I think we have this discussion before, I have decided to spend more time with my family so there will be likelihood of us leaving from work earlier than overshoot the time,” he puts his hand on her shoulder.
“And you are already abusing your authority?” she laughed. “And drags me along even before this place starts operating?”
“If you wanna say so, I already abuse my position the last time we went to Taipei 101 and buying our current penthouse,” he smiled.
She continued laughing.
And after her laughter dies down, he continued, “And as mentioned earlier, I planned to have it open for public use, means anyone can send their kids here, but my employees would enjoy staff benefits whereby they can enjoy this for free, but members of public would need to pay a minimal fee for the daycare service. As for the kindergarten, you don’t have to worry for the syllabus because it is all being provided and settled for, by the Ministry of Education,”
“Ministry of Education?!” she is stunned.
“Yes, because I do not have any knowledge in this, and I also understand your knowledge about kindergarten’s syllabus is probably about Canada’s and not Taiwan’s just yet, so they are the best provider and reference we can get. And they are glad to help,” Xi Men said. “So, feel free to ask them if you need any help or reference. They have already signed a memorandum with us about offering us help and assistance so you can ask them,”
“Yeah. They will give us all the help we need since we have a memorandum with them. And I have also registered this kindergarten and daycare with them so we are registered, valid and official,”
She smiled. He had really planned everything accordingly. She then remembered the most important part. “Umm… then what about staffing?”
“Settled,” he smiled.
“Really?” she asked. “Reeeeeeally?”
He laughed. “Kinda know you’ll say that. I am a businessman, generally good in business related stuffs; but not an expert in child’s stuff like you. So, I cannot hire people just like that. So I seek help from a reputable staff recruitment company to work alongside with the Ministry of Education to scan and hire the people for me. They need to be highly trained, highly professional and highly reliable since they will be dealing with kids. In total, I have hired…” he suddenly dived his hand into his pants to take out his phone, and then started finding notes in it.
She looked at him, wondering what he is doing.
“Okay, got the details: 3 receptionists, 20 teachers, 25 daycare helpers, 10 general helpers, 2 nurses, 5 chefs and 8 administrative personnel,” he reads from the note.
Xi Men smiled. “I don’t know how many people needed just yet, so if you need more; I will hire more for you. As said, I am not good with child’s matter, but I am good with managing. But you are good with child’s stuff and since you haven’t been involved in managing a company before, you may need help so I will be guiding you along the way. So, if you need help in managing a business, you can ask me. If you need help in child’s law, policy and education, ask the Ministry of Education. Alright?”
Xiao You smiled lightly and nodded. “But don’t you feel that what you are doing now… you are not generating revenue? You are offering this free for your staffs… and I am not sure if the minimal fee you are charging to the public will be able to cover your monthly costs…”
“Remember that I told you, business is always about risk, right? Not all businesses will make money and not all businesses will lose money. Right here, right now, I am most probably not generating revenue, but I am not losing a lot too. Because we are fully subsidized by the Ministry of Education,”
Xi Men nodded. “They love our initiative to build a private kindergarten and daycare center in the middle of town, I mean, in my office, for my staffs’ benefits and also use by public for a minimal fee. So, asides having to fork out money for the renovation and furnishing, the money that Ministry of Education will be channeling to us every month will be used to pay for everything else, be it the salary of your staffs, the food, the monthly maintenance fee, electrical, water and many, many more. Well, we might even save a bit and after 3 years, these leftover savings probably is enough to cover the renovations and furnishings too. But anyhow, even if I am not gaining or generating any revenue at the end of the day, I knew how happy you will be, and that is all matters,” he caressed her face. “And personally, if this place is really suffering loss, I’ll work harder to get more business deals at my side so that I will generate enough revenue to cover the losses here. I only want you to be happy. So you don’t have to worry about the generating money or suffering losses. I will get it covered,”
Xiao You is touched upon hearing what he had said.
“So, I have set up everything for you so you wouldn’t have anything to worry about. They are all ready. You only have to set the date for the grand opening of this kindergarten. That is all,” he smiled. “Manage this place with ease, honey. If you need any help or not satisfied with things, come to me. I will help you and we will do it together. Anything to make you happy,”
Xiao You nodded, she lowered her head slightly as she is moved by what Xi Men had done.
Seeing she reacted differently all of a sudden, Xi Men became worried.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “Are you blaming me because I have never discussed this with you? I am sorry, I just want to give you a surprise. If you are not happy or you didn’t want to do this, it is okay with me. You only have to tell me. Seriously, don’t be mad…”
“I am not mad. I am… touched,” she said, lifting up her head and looked at Xi Men, with tears formed in her eyes. “You did all of this for me,” she wiped her eyes, as she didn’t want the tears to roll down her cheek.
The panicked Xi Men is relieved. “Oh. It is nothing,” he smiled. “I couldn’t give you more. This is the best I can do,” he spreads his arms open as he then hugged her.
She smiled lightly while remaining in his arms. “You have given me a lot… I have never imagined I would do this one day…”
“You love kids. But I don’t want you to tire yourself with handling kids. So managing a kindergarten might be better, though it is a different kind of stress, but at least you don’t have to run after kids all the time like it is part of your job scope,” he smiled, easing from the hug. “And at least right now, if you need me, I can help you with the business, rather than you ask me to help you with kids…”
Xiao You laughed. “You are right,”
Xi Men smiled. “I hope you like it,”
“I do. I love it very much,” Xiao You smiled as she turned and looked around the place, fancying the place she is going to manage.
Her eyes then traveled to the floor as she noticed something about it. Her smile faded. “Xi Men, can I ask you one thing?”
“I notice the rubber carpet that leads to my room from the reception counter is red,”
“Oh, glad you noticed,” Xi Men smiled. “I asked them to do this because it means you will walk on red carpet everyday,”
Xiao You laughed. “I don’t know how to react about that. You and your sweet talk, again,”
He smiled. “But it is also shows that it is the right way to the psychologist,”
Her laughter fades. “Psychologist?”
“Child Development and Education Psychologist,” Xi Men smiled, and he took out a brochure from inside his suit, extending it to Xiao You. “I have sourced around town, Ying De University has the best lecturer and reputation for Child Psychology course in Taiwan which you have mentioned before that you would love to take a degree on. They have just sent me this brochure yesterday,”
Xiao You looked at Xi Men as she slowly takes the brochure from his hand.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t enroll you into the course yet; because I am not sure if you can cope with so many things at the same time. So I took the brochures for you to take a look. The next intake is in 4 months just in case you are interested to join or 10 months for the following intake. I have also asked for you, since you already have a degree in Early Childhood Education and also more than 5 years of working experience dealing with kids, you can finish the course within one and a half year. So, if all goes well and that you enrolled in the next intake, you will be holding double degree in 2 years and you will be a ‘Child Development and Education Psychologist’. When that time comes and when you are ready, I will advertise the service at the main directory board at the lobby,”
She smiled as tears formed again in her eyes. “Xi Men…”
He smiled, lowered his head for a while before he lifted up his head and looked at her, “I know what you really want is not the kindergarten and the daycare; but this,”
“What…?” she asked, as her tears rolled down her cheek.
Xi Men wiped her tears. “The kindergarten and daycare is just a side business. What you really want; is to be a psychologist. But to be a psychologist, you are either stationed at school or at hospital. I am not really comfortable with you stationed at hospital because of the odd working hours which might cause you not to have time for Emily… and not to mention for me as well…”
She inadvertently laughed for a brief while upon hearing that.
Xi Men smiled. “…and I am worried you might be bored if you don’t get to do much in a school. So asides from the two places, you shall setup your own office, but the best way to garner more business is when you give your customers the right feeling and comfortable about where your office is located at; which is inside a kids’ area; namely a kindergarten, or a daycare, like this. So, right now, you are only managing this place, and when you have gotten your degree and are ready to be a psychologist, you can transform your room to be your office as well… which is why it is so huge,”
“Thank you, Xi Men…”
Xi Men smiled. “I know you want to be a psychologist, but I understand your hands are full now. So if you can’t take your psychology degree, then just stay put and be a good boss to all your staffs and a good headmaster for the kids here, alright? No pressure and don’t stress yourself up,”
She nodded and leaned forward to hug Xi Men. “Thank you…”
“I really hope all of these meet your expectations, because it did for me; but the thing is, I am not an expert in this to really judge them. If you are not satisfied with any of these, feel free to change them. During the one whole month when you are not here, I spent every single night doing research about what is inside a kindergarten and daycare to make sure everything is completed and provided for, as well as finding out which University offers the best Child Psychology course in Taiwan. I hope those efforts I have put in pays off. And I supposed it did,” he smiled as he tightened his embrace.
She finally sobbed. “It did, Xi Men. It did… you do so much for me…”
“Anything for you, my darling. I want you to be happy,” he said. “Because I love you,” he rubbed her back as he heard her sniffs. “Because I love you so much,”
“I love you too…” she said in between her sobs.
“So… are we making love on my couch now?”
She pushes him off from the hug and painlessly smacks him repeatedly as he bursts out laughing and at the same time crosses his hands in order to protect himself from her gentle punches.
“And you are still thinking of that!” she didn’t know she should remained crying or laughed because of his joke. She laughed in between her sobs.
He laughed still. “You know I am joking. I just want to make you stop crying,” he extends his hands again and she just let herself wrapped in his loving embrace.
“Thank you for everything, Xi Men… thank you. My life has changed tremendously because of you,”
“Just like what you did to my life too,” he added to her statement.