His nametag says: “Tom;” his full name is Thongchai Saibuddhabun. As one of the Hilton staff providing exemplary service at the opening lunch for NYSUT’s Local Presidents’ Conference, Tom is a proud member of Local 6 of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
Before lunch started, Tom hesitantly inquired if he might express his appreciation for the teachers present – and because I was fortunate to be the person he spoke to, I can share Tom’s words widely here.
First he asked: Did I know the musical, The King and I? Set in the country formerly called Siam, it may be the most recognizable Western cultural reference for Tom’s native country, Thailand – which, he said, respects and reveres teachers above all.
“I want to say to the teachers, thank you for all you do,” Tom said with a slight bow. “In my country, teacher is the most important person. No one does a thing without teachers. There is no teacher layoff in my country, ever.
“At plays,” he continued, “before they perform, they must all say a prayer of thanks to their teachers. Without teachers, no one advances.”
So as you endure the slings and arrows of outrageous critics, know this: there are working folks out there who not only appreciate what you and our members do – they revere it.
Remember this, and if you see him … thank Tom.