Family or work duties?

At my former place of employment, we once had a situation wherein a co-worker skipped over to mainland China without any warning.  Apparently, his father was very ill, so he flew over there to be by his father in case he died.

By itself, that was by no means objectionable.  The problem was that he left us high and dry in the middle of a time-critical project, during a time when the company was in danger of closing its doors.  He also left us with no means of communicating with him. In other words, he jeopardized a critical project that could have cost people their employment.

I complained about this during one of those waterless "watercooler" discussions that engineers sometimes have.  One Chinese programmer named Shing overheard me and said, "You don't understand.  In Chinese culture, you have to be by the father's side in case he dies.  If you don't, you're not a good son."

Clearly, this fellow missed the point.

I explained, "Nobody's saying that he shouldn't visit his father, Shing... but surely he could have waited one more day to tidy up some affairs before he left.  And even if he could not, he could at least ;leave us without some contact information.  As things stand, we have no way to contact him, and if people lose their jobs because of his conduct... well, is that what his father would have wanted?"


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