Service of Bonuses

April 29th, 2010

Categories: Accommodation, Advertising, Appreciation, Awards, Banking, Bonus, Gratitude, Recognition, Thanks


There’s lots of talk about Wall Street and bank bonuses as well as the toys in Happy Meals, which got me thinking of the subject of the windfalls I’ve most enjoyed.

milkshakeIn college, Brigham’s milk shakes stood out. Next to a tall glass of thick coffee ambrosia–sometimes chocolate or strawberry–the milkshake-maker set down the icy-cold metal container in which s/he’d assembled–and the machine stirred–the concoction. The bonus contained almost as much as the original portion. Sigh.

lifesaverI’ll never forget the Lifesaver books my mom got as a stockholder [maybe from Kraft Foods?] at Christmastime. The packaging was in the shape of a book which, when you opened it, was filled with a remarkable assortment of Lifesavers. I’ve owned stock in various companies for eons and I’ve never received such a gift.

I’m thrilled when a conductor gives the audience an encore, which happens less and less these days. Union rules?

freeadviceShortly after I’d left Art & Antiques magazine, I helped out a stranger who called for advice about his art gallery opening. Someone suggested to him that I might help even though I’d launched a business in a different stratosphere. During our brief phone call, I recommended media he should invite and made some marketing suggestions. I soon forgot about the conversation that was similar to hundreds that I’ve had over the years. On Thanksgiving morning, the elevator man handed me an envelope from the gallery owner. In the thank you note was a very generous check. It was the first and the last time I saw a cent from someone needing “just a little information.”

When newsletters were printed the old fashioned way, large PR agencies spent a ton of money with local printers. The one we used was tremendously generous. As we left the restaurant after lunch, the waiter handed me an entire cheesecake because I’d swooned over the slice I’d just eaten. A total treat.

I mentor college and graduate students. When they incorporate some of my suggestions into their approach, or continue to ask me questions once the relationship/school year is officially over, these events are at the top of my bonus list.

What have been some of your most memorable or favorite bonuses?


8 Responses to “Service of Bonuses”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    What’s in a name?

    Our recent PRICEY trip to Disney in Florida included a $500 ”Gift Card.”

    GIFT CARD?? It was OUR money! The name makes it seem/sound as if its “free money.” Nope. It’s all part of the trip package.

    I must admit it felt cool to whip out Mickey’s face and say, “Let Mickey pay for this.”
    Of course its all an illusion, which, after all, is the specialty of that Magical Kingdom.

  2. JS Said:

    I got a $25 Christmas bonus on my first job. A lot of money when you
    are making $80 a week.

    Nothing since with the exception of stock options, of which I’m fully in favor. (The company I worked for has since dropped them for people at my grade level.) I still have three left. Shortly, I plan to cash in at least half of the 400 shares I have at $58 a share that expires in 2011. The stock is now at $88.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank! Wonderful. I didn’t think about fake bonuses!

    Now that you mention it, we stayed one night in a very pricey place in Napa Valley, California. The young man who carried our luggage to our cottage said, as he left, “You might as well help yourself to the goodies in the fridge because you’ve already paid for them!” There was wine, chocolate, fruit, nuts and all sorts of stuff. So glad he said something!

    JS, I worked for a company with profit sharing and a wonderful boss who really shared the profits. So many others figure out a thousand ways for there to be no profits to share. The person who bought the company removed all such benefits in a flash.

  4. Nancy Farrell Said:

    When I was little every bonus was greeted with enthusiasm–although the free record with the purchase of a full tank of gas was a favorite (was it at Esso?) Now that I’m older and managing a household budget, I’m a bit more practical. There’s an upscale restaurant in NJ that also offers the option of takeout. The packages are reusable and my parents save them for me to use for my daughter’s lunches. The lids fit securely and once in a while we get one that is the perfect size for sauces and dressings (which, if you’re little, you’re all about eating dressings and sauces and dips.) Besides the obvious benefits of saving money, we’re trying to teach our daughter about reducing the amount of trash we put into the landfills.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love strong takeout containers to store leftovers–especially the soup kind–and use them again and again until they are too unsightly or the lids give out.

    I bet your daughter will remember this lesson. Great way to teach it. Sauces, dressings and dips–YUM. Bonuses in themselves!

  6. Simon Carr Said:


    Bonuses have a great psychological impact, no doubt! I’ve always been thrilled by them, even though I know that they are often an illusion.

    They have another advantage to business managers. What to do with an employee who did terrific work, but for whatever reason, “peter principal,” alcohol, the wrong girl or boy friend, illness, and so forth, has become much less productive, has always been a big dilemma for bosses. By paying low salaries and giving large bonuses, you can partly solve the problem in a way that is often better than firing him or her. You only give big bonuses when an employee’s performance warrants it. And if you pass out the bonuses honestly, everyone gets the message, including the fellow whose work has slacked off.

    I just wish our government operated that way.


    PS: My most memorable bonus was many years ago when airline miles had just come into existance and I was travelling a lot on business. Thanks to those miles, in effect paid for by my employer, my wife was able to join me for a weekend in London.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Let’s not confuse bonuses with what has been going on in corporate America. Wall Street is not the only culprit, nor is government. As stated above, bonus is supposed to be a gift for good work, not just for being there and making a flop of onesself.

    The extra plane rides and checks come in handy, but bonuses they ain’t! Those are “rewards” for buying things.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A bonus and reward are similar…one is for being a good employee the other for being a loyal customer or being a customer at all.

    In any case, bring them on!

Leave a Reply