Big K

I wonder about Big K sometimes.

Big K is Kevin. He’s from China. I work with him.

Big K’s last name is Ma. Big K’s English is very bad. Big K is tall. I don’t know what his first name was before he changed it to Kevin. But he changed it to Kevin, so I call him Big K.

Maybe it’s cause Big K is originally from China that he doesn’t talk much about his wife or daughter. His wife, if Big K is to be believed, is successful in the medical field. And his daughter is in college in California to become a M.D.

Big K likes to watch basketball and football, both college and pro. Big K spends a lot of time tending to his yard. And Big K likes swimming at the YMCA on the weekends and his days off.

I don’t think anybody we work with cares very much about Big K.

Then again, do I, really?

I think I do, at least a little bit.

But I don’t think Big K cares. He doesn’t seem to care that he comes and goes through work like a ghost. He doesn’t care about being ignored any more than he cares whether your favorite cake is white or chocolate. It’s not a sociopathic thing either, I don’t think. I think he’s completely okay with nobody caring. I believe he’s truly okay with going unnoticed. He seems totally unaffected.

When Big K goes on vacation, it’s often alone. He likes taking a tent and minimal supplies and going to a national park to camp. Sometimes, he says, his wife goes with him, but not all the time. And even when she does, she stays in the forest with him for only a day or two.

I wonder about Big K all alone in the woods. Sometimes I wonder what he thinks and feels out there all alone. But I never ask. I figure if he wants to say, he’ll say. But he doesn’t. So I never ask.

And it makes me wonder, what is love?

Is love allowing his wife to stay home while Big K rests in the forest all alone? Is love not coercing her into doing something she dislikes, just so Big K’s doesn’t feel awkward being alone? Is love understanding that Big K needs some solitude, then allowing him that, undisturbed and without vindictiveness? Is love allowing him to spend the time he needs with himself, without jealousy for his attention given to himself and nature?

Of course, I may be romanticizing things. For all I know, they hate each other and each figures it’s a blessing to be away from the other for a while. It’s possible, since Big K never says much about his family. It’s possible, but my intuition says that’s probably not the case.

So I wonder, is love not needing – not demanding – her being there to experience something so crucial to his well-being as those days in the woods with nothing but a tent and a few basic supplies? No TV. No phone. Nothing but the woods and maybe some trails for walking?

Is it a sad thing that, with a wife – a life partner, Big K experiences an emotional, psychological, maybe even spiritual nourishment all alone? Is it romanticism to assume these things are best experienced together rather than alone? Is it sad or is it grand? Is Big K, all alone in some park somewhere in Oregon, to be pitied or admired?

Nobody at work pays that much attention to Big K. Usually, when he’s been gone for days on vacation, people barely notice his absence.

I usually ask Big K on Mondays which games he watched over the weekend. And when finals approach, I ask him who he thinks will win the championship.

Do I really care about the games Big K watches? Probably not. Not that much, anyway.

But it seems a simple thing to try to notice people. Not all people, but a person here or there, so I try noticing Big K.

Of course, not everybody’s worth noticing. Some people are assholes even when the go unnoticed. And some people, once noticed, take it as an open invitation to talk way too much while nothing at all to say.

I don’t know if Big K cares that I notice him. I don’t know if he should care. I don’t even know if I should care either. I don’t know if I should care about noticing him. I don’t know if I should care whether he cares about my noticing him or not.

I try talking with Big K most everyday, just to be friendly. Or, maybe it’s cause I’m lonely and he seems like an easy mark. I try saying a few words, at least, to Big K every day. That way, when he’s been gone for a day or two, I notice and then sometimes wonder where his is.

From what I can tell, Big K’s pleasures are simple – some sports, his family, his lawn, some solitude, and swimming at the YMCA. And he’s a conscientious guy to work with. He’s humble and agreeable. Somehow, I can’t help but imagine, in a lot of ways he’s got a lot of our bullshit licked. For some reason I suspect he’s got a lot of our bullshit beat, but it’s not even a secret. It just is. It just is, like Big K’s habit of eating rice every day. Rice that, as a matter of it being what it is, perhaps in conjunction with Big K’s metabolism, keeps Big K very slim.

For some reason, I think Big K’s worth noticing. Maybe even worth caring about a little. I guess that’s why I give Big K a little notice when not much of anybody else does. It’s not even a moral thing, really. It’s just a matter of wishing to learn or understand some things a little bit better. And sometimes learning something through the example of someone else has its benefits.

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