The Working Man: The Suit, The Site, Chhunly

If you even skim my blog, you know how I feel about Thy Mai (Pity Corp.) and Tad Suzuki (The Working Man). They’re super creative, supportive, and caring friends, who were recently involved in my skate film program that played in Chicago, Honolulu, and San Diego. Recently, they’ve been dedicating their energies toward a friend in need.

MW: What is Pity Corp. and The Working Man’s connection to Chhunly Hach Slater?
Thy: She is one of my dearest friends in the world. I was 17 when I met Chhun working at Outback Steakhouse in Seattle. I had just moved there. She was so nice, and since we were from neighboring countries, I asked her if she liked pho and if she knew where to get a bowl. It had been months and I missed my comfort food. When she said it was her favorite, too, I asked her to take me because I had no car and I’d treat. She called it kha tieu, though, and she rarely let me pay.

Although sad that I was moving, she was totally supportive when I decided to move from Seattle to L.A. and go for it. She knew I loved hair and gave me a ride to the airport. That’s how my SoCal journey started.

Tad: And for that TWM is indebted to her kindness. Whenever Thy spoke about Chhunly, I always felt as if she was one of her sisters. She’s family.

MW: Chhunly has a connection with the suit seen in “The Working Man” video?
Tad: Yeah, it was definitely my transition into suits. It’s the first suit I bought and it was our first wedding that we attended as a couple .

Thy: We got Tad’s suit on the fly because we wanted him to look his best at her wedding–especially because I was wearing a beautiful-but-super-tight traditional Cambodian wedding attire. I think they had to safety pin it on me because it was so teeny. She was marrying the love of her life so we wanted to do it up.

MW: When and how did you find out about her stroke? What were your first thoughts?
Tad: I was meeting Thy at a restaurant for a quick visit. As I was walking up, Thy had tears and told me.

Thy: Found out on Saturday, which is a workday for me. Was waiting on some food and saw I had missed a call from Chhun’s cell. I called back and heard the fateful news from her husband Matt. My stomach hurt and my heart fell when I heard his voice.

I asked what happened. Chhun suffered a stroke when they were out on a date, collapsed, and was in a coma. The situation kept running through my head but I couldn’t process it. My first thoughts were, “Oh my God! Her girls, they’re so young. They love her so much.” What were they going to do? And what was Matt going to do? I felt bad that I had no magical words. I felt bad that I had to call him back because I had to get back to work.

MW: You’ve started a site to help her surviving family?
Tad: It’s a great way to allow all people to come together, honor Chhun and pay their respects. It’s the Holiday Season when we are supposed to be spending time with our loved ones and help our fellow
neighbor. Chhun’s the most giving person and it’s amazing to see everyone banding together to do the same for her husband and precious girls.

Thy: It’s just the worst living in a different city and being so far away that you feel helpless because you can’t do anything. Once I got my wits together, I remembered how Reggie Destin’s best friend had made a site for him. It was the best way to keep everyone posted and allow other friends to help through their prayers, passing it along, or contributing.

Ava (2) and Miley (5) are so young. They need all the support they can get. My mom passed away when I was 2 and I know it’s not going to be easy. Chhun took such great care of me when I was a latch-key kid. It’s the least we can do to help Matt look after their babies.


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