Started in the Mailroom

What a great commentary. He speaks of many truisms about the difference between racism and how people talk, which are not necessarily the same. How one’s attitude has more to do with success than race.

Needull in a haystack


This needull tells the inspiring story of Roy Ratnavel, who fled the Sri Lankan civil war, started in the mail room and is now fairly successful senior employee at CI Financial.

Roy was living with four roommates in a cheap apartment in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. “They got one newspaper, the Toronto Sun—just for the Sunshine Girl—we never read it,” he tells me. “But that night, I flipped through the job listings, and there was one that said ‘Office Help Needed. $14K.’ I applied—even though I didn’t even know what ‘K’ meant.” His offer letter, dated February 16, 1989—twenty-seven years ago—now sits in a frame above his desk. Reports of discrimination against hard-done-by immigrants make headlines, and rightly so. But it is also important to celebrate the millions of newcomers who are living the Canadian dream.

The complete story

Jonathan Kay — The Walrus

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11 thoughts on “Started in the Mailroom

    1. Yes, it reinforces my frequent comments that race should never be an issue or block to success. Sometimes, people look for excuses to fail. I think most times, people make comments without mal-intentions and unfortunately they can’t take them back. I’ve done it myself, some of it may only be generational, speech learned while growing up. I don’t think people necessarily mean to be insensitive. We are, after all, only human.
      As for prejudice, I found it always a challenge to change people’s mind. That’s all we can do. If it doesn’t work in one place, move on. I always like the phrase, “How do you eat an elephant?…One bite at a time!”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It was a very interesting article. My own views and his differ in places, but I wholeheartedly agree with his comment that ‘You can’t control what people say. You can only control how you react to it.’

    I also think the distinction he draws between ignorance and racism (or sexism, or any other kind of -ism) has something to it. After all, everybody on the planet says silly, uninformed things from time to time. Sadly, I’m no exception. For myself, I feel that a person’s intent is the key. If someone is not trying to be offensive, I try not to be offended.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful story. It’s heartening to know that dreams can still come true. I was surprised that he spoke Tamil. Our daughter is from Bangalore, India, and that was her native dialect. But the last line of the article kind of made me sad. “It’s because capitalism is the world’s greatest equalizer.” It doesn’t sit well with me that one might have to play the money game to be on a part with others. There’s so much more to people than that. But then I’m a bit of bleeding heart. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting that that is what stood out for you. I think on a subconscious level I may have picked up o that as well, but because it is so integral to man I shelved it. Whether trading beads or horses, it’s what man does.
      For me, I cued in on how by not being sensitive, his tenacity and humility (not in a negative sense) but in his ability to accept counsel won his peers over.
      It is a lesson everyone can benefit from regardless of race or color. Not everyone is out to get us.
      I remember my first job with a woman who was extremely harsh with her words. I hung in there and learned all I could. When I was ready to move on, she cried. You never know.

      Liked by 1 person

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