In China, the Lunar New Year is a time for family reunions. This year, Apple is moving people to tears with an online ad about the importance of cherishing your loved ones.
Shot on an iPhone X, the video tells the story of a mother who only gets to see her young son briefly -- three minutes to be exact -- during the holidays. Why? Because she works as a train conductor on the six-day Nanning-to-Harbin route -- one of the longest in China.
The boy, accompanied by his aunt, goes to the closest station where mom’s train is about to stop. After an anguished search on the crowded platform, they manage to find each other -- but before the mother can say anything, the kid starts reciting multiplication tables.
It turns out she had told him before, half-jokingly, that if he couldn’t memorize the tables, he would have to move to a faraway school and see mom even less.
As the precious seconds wear on, the boy keeps going, sometimes pausing to search his brain. The mom struggles to hold back her tears and tries to stop him. But her sister pleads for her to stay, saying the boy has been practicing for days.
But the train has to leave, so the mother and son hug as he continues to recite the table. She jumps back on the train and looks at him through the window just as he finishes the last sum.
After the short film was released, Chinese media rushed to report on real-life train drivers and conductors who miss out on time with their loved ones while bringing others home to see theirs.
Social media users commented on how the ad touched them. “Just saw the film … it made me sad but also made me feel blessed,” one wrote, while another said simply, “Watch this and cry.”