During one of my Business lectures, Need Arousal Theories were discussed. One of them, by Abraham Maslow, theorized that needs can be divided into 5 categories – physiological, safety and security, social, self-esteem, and self-actualization. It’s a hierachy of needs, arranged as a pyramid with self-actualization on the top and physiological on the bottom. The theory, as presented in class, stated that “lower level needs always prevail”. I know I probably took it too literal, but as something popped in mind, I thought that’s not true.

My dad’s friend, let’s call him A, works in a factory for $13 or $14 per hour. He has three kids, one of which is in university already. His wife doesn’t work and his mother- and father-in-law live with them and the kids in an apartment with just two rooms. As you can imagine, it’s a lifestyle very much different from ours… So when my dad heard of an opportunity for a job of $20/hour, he happily told A. The job was almost guaranteed because it would be an internal referral and A has the skills they required; he does what the job asks for daily. But A didn’t take the opportunity. He gave up on the chance of getting a 50% raise on his paycheque. 

And here’s why … A has a friend, let’s call her B, who has lung cancer. She is here alone in Canada. So A takes care of B; taking her to the hospital for chemo, check-ups, and in case of emergencies. His reason for not taking the job was that because he is a senior employee at the factor he currently works at, he can skip work sometimes if something happens to A. But if he takes the new job, because he is new, he can’t skip work. And what if something happens to her, as she is in the third stage of cancer. He didn’t even let his wife know of this opportunity and how he let it go. He was afraid that his wife might slipped one day and told B.

I was shocked, astonished, and ashamed. If I was to be presented the opportunity with 50% raise of my current pay, and with the situation that A was in – wife not working, 3 kids, and having in-laws living with us, I wouldn’t be able to make the same decision. Oh, how rare it is, to find someone like him in this materialistic world.