Bonus Day

There are some things that will never change, and that isn’t always a bad thing. Salaries are traditionally paid out on the 25th of the month and bonuses on the 10th of December and the 10th of June if your company does it twice yearly. If the 25th or 10th falls on a weekend or holiday it gets shifted to the earliest previous working day. Banks must do a hell of a lot of business in December and certainly shopping areas suddenly get very crowded as everybody has some spare cash on them for a change

As I make my way to the station on Friday morning. I walk past my bank but see with dismay it is still closed; another curse of the early worm. I know I must spend the morning still not knowing if my “bonus” was paid in. Thinking of it, the closest ATM to my office is a fair way away, so it probably won’t be until the evening.
When my colleagues come in it is a hot topic of conversation. Mr. Congenial, named here entirely without sarcasm as he is possibly the nicest guy you’ll ever get to meet in the games industry, tells me there is some question over whether the money will be in by today or whether we have to wait until Monday. This sends a cold shiver down my spine. Mr. Quiet sits in between me and Mr. Congenial and tells me he is planning to check his account after the lunch break. That’s something at least. Mr. Congenial and Mr. Quiet, it bears telling, are two fantastic artists and I am very glad to be working with them, though their frequent overnight stays at the office give me and my refusal to do likewise a bad name.

While waiting for a build on the converter to check some unimportant texture changes I felt compelled to make I chat some more with Mr. Congenial about the whole self-evaluation system. They are pleasantly shocked and mock-outraged when they learn of my scheme of over-grading myself. They had both been “truthful”, or at least humble enough, to mark themselves with a few Bs. “Bad move,” I assure them, “they’ll just agree with you even if they had intended to mark you higher. Do like me and score yourself too high! They’ll never drop it down too much because that would cause friction and who knows, they may even agree with it.” “So what did you score yourself?” “A few As and a few S marks.” Their eyes widen in disbelief, and their faces shout “you smarmy get!” at me, though probably in Japanese. “What were your final scores then?” “All As.” They suddenly see the truth in what I am saying and their outraged laughed dies away into a sort of retrospective regret. They tell me that means I will get some extra bonus above and beyond what I am owed. I doubt that.
(As you can see, I am an actual practitioner of Gamesmanship. Those posts aren’t just for fun!)

I tell them if my bonus is rubbish I will have a stern talk with the boss about salaries promised and salaries paid out. They are very supporting of that idea until I realize they want me to be the aggressive foreigner on their behalf, as it were. I think it prudent to shy away from the subject before I get carried away and do something I may regret.

For lunch I skulk off to the coffee shop and have a quiet sandwich while I listen to This Sceptered Isle. I always enjoy these short breaks away from the office and my monitor. I drink coffee, smoke too much and dream away for half an hour. When I get back someone has just started up Blue Dragon on our office’s unnecessarily huge television. A crowd of us gathers round to watch and there is a lot of talk about character design and XBoxen. The general consensus is that Blue Dragon looks a little bit pants, graphically and gameplay-wise, and that the RPG hardcore crowd will love it but probably noone else will. Later in the day I read about the Xbox360/Blue Dragon bundle being sold out and 200,000 units having been sold of the game itself. It’s always difficult to keep office opinion and market realities separated. Too often I catch myself making assertions about the Japanese market based on what a handful of colleagues think.

Mr. Quiet comes back from lunch and tells us the bonus has indeed been paid in. A general sense of relief washes over us, especially me. But I still don’t know if I have been stiffed or not and I won’t know until this evening. The afternoon goes tortuously slow and as soon as it’s time I leave the office. To Hell with unpaid overtime.
As I get into town I make a beeline for my cash-machine, press the button for English menus and do a balance check. It’s all there. I have to remind myself this is my salary, not a bonus, but the feeling of stupid gratitude towards my employer’s magnanimity crops up. To suddenly find a large chunk of money in you account is always welcome and I catch myself smiling, but this is my salary and in stead of paying it me over the year they have held it back for 6 months. Why am I feeling grateful? I compose myself and take out some pocket money. I do some maths and figure out that yes, I did get some over and above what I was owed, but it is so little it hardly makes a difference. In retrospect the money that one could actually call a “bonus” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Later on in that weekend I will spend too much money on an insanely large new television, something I absolutely do not need, which will arrive in time for Christmas. With all the stress and frustration at work it’s surprising how a little consumer therapy can cheer me up so. I make some half-hearted attempts at chasing down a Wii but they’re still sold out everywhere. No mind, I’ll get one whenever. I wouldn’t want to play it until my obscenely large television arrives anyway.

I wonder if I’ll manage to spend my entire “bonus” before the year is out. My guess is yes.


  1. bleh, if your bonus is big enough to buy an obscenely large TV then it can't be that bad.

    If mine is big enough to buy a big tv, it will be spent on paying off my stupid student loan instead (grr), but it doesn't look like anyone will be getting one this year.

    We don't get to self-evaluate either, but we do have meetings where the company evaluation is explained. Woo.


  2. lol more money is good. Congrats on getting all of your salary.

  3. First Anonymous Person: He posted earlier on how the Japanese bonus system works by taking a portion of the money you have earned from your pay check, they hold on to it for a while, and if you are lucky they add a little more to it. If you are unlucky they keep some of it.

    It's not like here in the west where we get actual bonus money. Or if you are like me a fucking Hot Coco Holiday sampler. Well guess what Mr. Morrison? Three months ago I banged your daughter. That's right, boss, did her doggy style. I'm not even attracted to her pudgy ass.

    /hopefully he doesn't read this blog

  4. Last Anonymous: Now THAT'S a bonus.

  5. Congrats on the 'bonus' ^_^