I’ve always been a night owl. My first late night job was in high school, mopping up and taking out the trash part time at a restaurant after closing at 11PM. After high school, not taking well to college right away, I worked second shift 3:30PM to midnight at a factory in San Diego for 18 months. This resulted in countless all-nighters, though I did, unbelievably, maintain perfect attendance without one single late or sick day.
It was a Japanese-owned factory, and perfect attendance each month was rewarded with a $5 bonus and the designation of “Honor Employee”. I liked my $5 bonus the first of each month ($4.34 after taxes), and I liked the way my manager bowed in thanks when presenting the bonus check and saying to me in broken english “You are Honor Employee. We appreciate you”.
To this day, I can’t believe that a wild young, irresponsible, unreliable 18-19 year old like me could be tamed and made 100% punctual by the desire to receive that simple ritual affirmation and a few extra dollars each month. But if you’ve never been bowed to in ritual and honored by an oriental boss, and told you are appreciated in front of all your co-workers, it’s intoxicating. It’s addicting. And it made me feel entirely worthy and valued when everything else in my college-droppout-beer-drinking life indicated otherwise.
So I made sure I was on time every day and didn’t miss work. I think my lifelong work ethic can be attributed to the punctuality habits caused by that $5 bonus and the seemingly trivial yet potent acknowledgment of appreciation each month.
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