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Sweet Holiday Bonus

, | Right | December 22, 2014

(I’ve just finished junior college, and a couple of friends and I get temp jobs as sales staff manning a small patisserie’s stall at a Christmas food fair. Everything they sell is made by hand by the co-owner’s mother and absolutely delicious. I’m rushing about the stall as usual, on my own. A customer gives me the usual ‘just looking’ brush-off and so I step back to leave them to it when two hands grab me about the arms. I jump and turn; behind me there is a tall, positively Amazonian lady. She’s in yoga pants and a tank top and flip flops, but she is unmistakably well-groomed.)

Me: “I’m so sorry, ma’am.”

Customer: “I’d just gotten my nails done and it would have spoiled my pedicure.”

(I thought I was in for a world of pain; but we both look down and admire her nails for a bit and the conversation turns to the wares. I offer her samples and give my spiel, and we chat while her husband, an older long-haired man just as casually dressed, stands around staring into space, occasionally munching the samples when offered. In the end she leaves with four massive shopping bags filled to the brim with cookies, gift boxes, and various other seasonal confectioneries. It is the largest sale I’ve ever made (not that I get a commission, but I am awed just keying that amount of money into my till as it was more money than I’ve ever seen in one place. They leave as my boss approaches, and they greet each other, chat for a bit, and move off. He comes to me.)

Boss: “Do you know who they are?”

Me: “Um… no?”

Boss: “He owns [Large Business] and she’s the lady boss of [Car Dealership that is the exclusive distributor of a particular luxury car brand]. They’re very impressed with your service. She told me to pay you more.”

(I’m stunned and it takes a while before it sinks in. On the last day of the fair our boss comes with our paychecks and pulls me aside to give me mine.)

Boss: “Don’t show the others your pay-slip. You got more than them.”

Me: “They know I put in more hours and overtime.”

Boss: “No, your bonus is a higher percentage than theirs and it’s reflected there. [Customer] and [Husband] made sure to remind me, and [Hidden Partner] posed as a customer yesterday and he was really impressed with you, too.”

(This was seven years ago, but as an awkward and really quite off-kilter seventeen year old, being told that my hard work paid was an insane boost to my self esteem. I still look for the stall every year at that food fair and make sure to say hi and buy something.)