A dapper beverage vendor who used to be stationed in front of Tainan University of Technology (TUT) communicated his final words of wisdom to students via a handmade card that was made public on Friday following his death from laryngeal cancer in January.
“While wearing a tie can help elevate one’s moral character and boost one’s image, it can also cause one to be untrue to oneself and to look down on others. If you are one of the few who, despite wearing a tie, continue striving and are willing to stoop to wash the floor, and to do so with persistence, then congratulations to you,” 51-year-old Cheng Pen-yuan (成本源) wrote in neat calligraphy in a card filled with gratitude and encouraging words.
Cheng made a name for himself among TUT students not only for the beverages he sold, but also for his distinctive clothing — usually consisting of a hat, a collared shirt and a striped necktie.
To express his gratitude to students for their long-time support, Cheng wrote the card to pass on his “wisdom and philosophy of wearing ties” after he was diagnosed with cancer. He instructed his family to deliver it to TUT president Chen Hung-chu (陳鴻助) after his passing.
The card was published on Friday on the university’s Web site, with school authorities referring to Cheng as “a teacher of life.”
The late vendor was born in Penghu County and was raised in an orphanage, growing up to become a hardworking man who made his living by running stalls, Chen said.
“After losing his ability to speak and becoming decimated in the terminal stage of his illness, Cheng, insisted on saying farewell in person to every firm he had collaborated with using a pen and paper,” Chen said, adding that he hoped Cheng’s down-to-earth attitude would rub off on students.
Cheng’s wife, Lin Chiu-tuan (林秋緞), said his greatest regret in life was that his illness had stopped him from selling beverages and therefore from offering financial support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Cheng had planned to finance the education of three TUT students and provide them with a monthly allowance of NT$500. Since he was forced to shut down his business, he could only show his gratitude to students with words,” Lin said.