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Monday, February 16, 2009

Perfect Attendance

Hong, the owner of Hong Wah Laundromat at 176 MacDougal, and I share very significant near misses. Let me explain.
As I have grown older, I find myself doing more creative work. Product design and graphics in my business and recently, writing and photography for this website. But when I was younger,  I always considered myself a numbers man. I loved math in high school, majored in math in college. I tried to quantify most things. Otherwise, how could one make any objective evaluations without measuring and numbers? One way to satisfy this thirst for all things numeric is setting records and noting the numbers. Like days attended in school.
Very few students are awarded perfect attendance for 4 years of high school. I did, nearly. Yes, I did get sick with flus and colds - but I attended under all conditions - every school day for four years. One day I left early in the afternoon for a dentist appointment. I assumed, however, that I would get a perfect attendance award and was shocked on graduation day to find I had been slighted. Apparently leaving 2 hours early is not perfect attendance. Too late to protest at graduation ceremonies and to this day, I still feel cheated.
I don't want to get into a pissing contest about who works hardest or competitive tales of hardship - everyone has one or more. But New York City is not a prison camp or the third world and even though many New Yorkers are workaholics, there is always some accommodation made for holidays and time off. With some exceptions.
Hong is the first and only person that I personally have met that takes no time off from work. By work, I mean going to a place of work and putting in a full day.
Hong Wah Laundromat is open seven days per week from 8AM to 9PM (Sunday until 8PM) -that's 13 hours per day. He and his wife are there every day, all day. Sometime ago I asked Hong if he took vacations - he appeared mortified and just bristled at that concept. His immediate response was that he had to work every day.
And by no time off, I don't mean very little time off, I mean none. Or should I say nearly none because recently I learned a dirty little secret - Hong does close one day per year - New Year's Day. So, like me, he misses that award by one day. But, unlike me, he has an easy solution to his near miss. I'd just work that extra day and give myself perfect attendance :)


• Eliane • said...

That is an amazing story.
And, shhh, your secret is well kept with us.

Brian Dubé said...

Eliane - Thanks.

Blognote said...

I like these fragments of life you post!! Thank you for sharing, Brian!!

ryan said...

My best friend's father was Chinatown's first pediatrician. Dr. Wong's office was opened 7 days a week and closed one day a week, on Christmas or new year's day. He put 6 kids through college and grad school and sponsored dozens of his relatives in China to immigrate to the states. When they got here, he put them up for 6 to 18 months at a time until they got on their feet. Chinese people, at least the immigrants, welcome work of any kind like manna from heaven. I feel lucky to have picked this up from my own Chinese parents. What I've also learned is that education is a privilege not to be squandered, and as children it was our 'job' to achieve the highest grade possible. (You got an A? What about an A+?) Help with school work or projects was not to be expected as our parents could not speak or read English. It was sink or swim and we had no alternative but to swim. Growing up under so much pressure was not easy, but the upside is that when you get out there in the working world, life in comparison seems like a walk in the park.

Beth S. said...

Im a senior and ive had perfect attendance since 1st grade. I also left two hours before i was "supposed to stay" I had to attend a tragic family funeral. I only missed 2 hours in the past 12 years. This dismissal had stopped me from applying for any perfect attendance scholarships, and i dnt even get a recognition. How many kids can say they have done this, def less than 4 in each school for the graduatuating class. I have a week left until graduation, i wish there was some way to make that dismissal disappear. I still am extremely proud of my accomplishment. Any opinions feel free to email me