Don’t Worry

Charlie is a happy young man. In his world, there is no bad people and no bad things. His mantra is: Don’t worry.

This semester he decided not to count on research grant but applied for other scholarships. Shyi Dong and I were worried that this young man never had a difficult life and he probably didn’t realize how tough it would be to study abroad without a scholarship. When we were still thinking how to solve this problem, Charlie excitedly told us on the phone that he got a scholarship from the government. Honestly, I couldn’t feel any excitement because the new scholarship was much less than the original grant. However, I couldn’t reveal my disappointment because it was a great honor anyway. A few weeks later, he told us that he got another scholarship. But the two new scholarships were still not as much as the one he gave up. Again we couldn’t let him feel that we were a little disappointed because it was not easy to compete with all the other applicants to get it. When Shyi Dong and I decided to use our savings to help pay for his studies, the good news came in again. It was the third scholarship Charlie got and the total amount of the three scholarships was more than the one he had before. Shyi Dong and I were relieved and we teased Charlie that he was profitable.

It was certainly great to get three scholarships, but it required a lot of paper work and our help to collect some materials. Sometimes I complained it was just too much trouble to replace the old one with the new ones. He answered: “Don’t worry.” He gave reasons such as the new scholarships would allow him to do any research work he was really interested in and he could start his big business plan now. I never thought my baby had grown already. No wonder he always said: “Don’t worry!”

Last week he organized an outing for a group of graduate students to ride bicycles from Berkeley to the Golden Gate Bridge. He told me excitedly on the phone how great it felt to ride on this spectacular bridge, but at the end of the conversation he added that he missed the meeting his advisor requested. What happened was that his advisor emailed all the students to have a lab meeting in the afternoon before they left for the trip. No one could go because they already made the plan for the bike ride. I could picture how angry his advisor would be and Charlie might become the scapegoat. I told him that he’d better watch out because he probably never heard that it was the professor’s right to flunk the students. Again he just said: “Don’t worry!” Feeling uneasy, I phoned him again on the following day and he cheerfully answered: “Don’t worry, nothing bad happened.”

Charlie’s optimistic personality has made his life much more relaxing. Compared with all the other graduate students, he was very lucky to get sufficient financial support for his studies. The scholarship not only allows him to perform excellent research work, but he also could spend time on surfing, skiing, and bicycling.

We teased Charlie as ‘Mr. Don’t Worry’. However, sometimes his easy-going personality has caused troubles. It was not strange for us to hear that he missed his flights and had to sleep at the airport. It was also not strange to hear that he was almost stuck in London once when he didn’t bring enough cash for food and the Tube (subway).

Charlie’s optimistic personality has made his life very interesting. Indeed, we never need to worry about him.

Bih-Hua Chen
November 18, 2010