Everything in life is personal.
Two years ago, I was in China. Business trip.
I was supposed to help prepare a new line of diamond eternity bands: to verify the weight of the stones, to go with setters and jewelers through the production process, making sure that everything is fastened to the last button before hundreds of thousands of dollars are stuffed into them. Little tinsel, a temptation that Marilyn Monroe used to say they were a woman's best friend. I do not have many friends.
The design site belonged to me, so as the main designer, I was responsible for the final product.
Hong Kong was fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I always thought New York was powerful but comparing to Hong Kong it looked like a little brother. The power of the buildings, the size of the bridges, the number of people – everything was incomparably great.
The jewelry factory, where I was supposed to work for the next two weeks, was located further into China.
The control points to get on the train to China were much tighter than at US or European airports. A Star Wars-like railway station, a super-fast train that looks as if no one is riding it, although it was fully packed.
And again, I compared it to the New York subway, which seemed like a previous era. As if I were suddenly stepping on a Chinese train, I moved 100 years ahead, at least with technology.
The power of the station where we got off with my guide and future colleague, one of the managers in the factory, was intimidating. I felt like a dot, a little pea in a bag full of peas. A sea of human heads, which I looked at as I descended the stairs from the platform towards the exit. There was something else in the air, a strange tension, a disturbing need to leave this place pushed us forward.
New York has always unleashed a smile on my face, because of its diversity, China amazed me by its monotony. Of course, some people were dressed differently, in some I could immediately see foreigners, but they were all strangely, unnaturally correct. Even children were screaming less, teenagers were less defiant, with more humble hairstyles. Uniformity of apparent normality.
A few days later, I was about to face THE boss.
Hong Kong, the 18th floor of an endless building turned toward the bay.
While waiting for the audition, I looked around and found it hard to believe that here I am, a girl from Poland, from Masuria, that at the moment I will meet a man who plays golf with Putin every month. According to Kasia Nosowska’s philosophy, I could actually say that I will meet Putin himself.
I entered the room, beautifully located cabinet, the view of the bay was stopping me halfway. Behind a heavy desk, in presidential style, in an equally presidential chair, in a starched shirt and an 18-carat watch on his wrist, was HIM. The diamonds in cufflinks flashed as he raised his hand to summon me closer to himself with a papal gesture.
I introduced myself, shake his hand without leaving my eyes off him, and sat in the chair opposite. In my sneakers, black leggings, a black simple shirt, with an extravagant hairstyle, and red lipstick, I was an interesting addition, not blending into the environment. In the room, in addition to us, there were four more people waiting on standby to accept each order. The only missing was a court jester, but maybe to make it funnier, each of these people sometimes took on this role.
The man began the papal talk, referred to the history of the company (the fourth generation), to the mines he owns, to his vision of the future, and finally smoothly entangled me in it all. With an unopposed tone, almost adrift, but drilling through every cell in the body, he conducted his monologue. A dictatorial habit acquired over the years. I stood before the emperor of the world of diamonds!
Concluding his polite and distanced words, he added: "Remember that even if something goes wrong and our paths separate (I hope it doesn't happen because you look like a smart person), it's just a business, nothing personal, simply business."
Then I, without fear, looking him straight in the eye, replied: "And that’s where I must disagree!"
He raised his eyebrows in complete surprise, everyone around held the breath, and then it came to me that he is not used to people who disagree with him, he doesn’t know how to deal with them. Complete lack of experience.
With his eyebrows still raised, almost shyly, he asked, "Don't you agree? And why?"
"Because if I'm sitting here in front of you, talking, and we're going to work together, you're not talking or working with my company! You work with me! So, in my humble opinion, because we work with people, everything, more or less, is always personal!"
The man seemed calmer, let his eyebrows relax, smiled a bit, and said, "You know, I like you... not only that, but I also think you're right."
Then I felt that everyone in the room started breathing again.
We cooperate to this day.