No Money For The Manapua Man
I grew up in Kalihi, a neighborhood of Honolulu on the island of O’ahu in the state of Hawai’i. The lower valley has been a residential area filled with numerous older tract housing. My mom tried to make ends meet with what she had and til today, I still do not know how she did it. She was not a strung out junkie or anything like that, nor was she the product of a rags to riches story. I just want you to have an understanding of what I was going through at the time so you can relate it to your own experience. I know some people have suffered harder times and that this happens more often then we care to realize because like many other kids, I thought for so long that I was the victim.
I remember moving from place to place, having no solid foundation, with most of my time being spent with my grandmother, whom I considered my mother for a long time. “Granny” is a big reason why this book is being written and why I am where I am today. I wanted to make her proud. I have vivid memories of drinking water with a squeeze of lemon thinking it was normal lemonade, eating cereal with water instead of milk, and using a McDonald’s plastic spoon to scoop peanut butter as a meal because we had no bread.
From pre-school, I always felt like the world was against me and my brother. Yes, at the time, I had a step brother that did not look at all like me and I always wondered why. We trudged along and I always wondered about that; I can only assume my mom had an extra marital affair. I believe my mom got a job in the construction business and while she was at work I remember being with Granny or in day care. I assumed mom was doing the best she could and never appreciated it until now. I remember everyone telling me to “go to school, get good grades, go to college, and you will have everything you want.”
Unfortunately, everyone who said that to me, in my early age opinion, fell into two categories:
1. They said that because it was the thing to say during that era of the industrial age, yet they looked miserable coming home from work always complaining and hating life, or
2. They did do it, and were still struggling to make ends meet with no freedom to do whatever they wanted to do
In my eyes, that meant “BROKE” with no money because I still did not get the toys other kids had. Do you know people like that? Does that sound familiar to you? In our apartment complex where I grew up we had a “Manapua Man,” the equivalent to your neighborhood ice cream truck. Our Manapua Man, with music blaring from his van, sold Japanese treats, candy, ice cream, popsicles, and soda. I used to see kids go to their house and come back with money in hand to go to the van.
I NEVER GOT TO GO TO THE VAN!
I would hang around to get a lick of someone else’s popsicle or a piece of candy from other kids. Do you know how degrading that is? When I used to ask my mom for money for the Manapua Man, the typical answers were “we are broke and money does not grow on trees.” At this point I was confused and could not understand how someone could work all day every day, still be broke, and not be able to give me a quarter for a ring pop candy. I thought either mom was stingy or trying to teach me a lesson. I told myself either way, when I am able, I am going to not ever worry about money again. I remember clearly at 4 years old, not yet in kindergarten, that I was going to not ever worry about money.
I am not here to tell you my parents were drug users, born into a gang, or in the pimp game. I do know all about being in project housing and the territory it comes with being in that particular environment. My mission was to make all the money I could at any and every cost. This triggered my “spirited entrepreneurial drive.” My idea at 4 years old was to make money off the other kids by providing them with goods and services on the spot. At that moment, the game began. What others call “getting their grind on” or “getting their hustle on,” to me it was gaining every advantage I could on anything and everything because I did not want to be old and broke!
“GET OUT OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. EXPERIENCE WHAT IS OUT THERE.”
Looking for a few good people that want to change
their situation starting today…
Aloha Gordon Wat