My alarm blared at 7:15 A.M. on the first summer Saturday. As I grudgingly woke up, I thought about my friends who were still dormant. My mom yelled for me to get ready for work. I stepped into the car and began to worry about all the criticism I might face. I was going to put forth my best effort to impress my strict and short-tempered uncle.
My uncle quickly greeted me and pointed to my apron, hat, and workstation. After learning what he expected, I quickly started to grasp the basic concept of making sushi. As our break approached, my uncle went to buy refreshing beverages and doughnuts for us. Surprised by the generosity, I reached for a doughnut and began to eat. Before I even finished half, my uncle ordered us back to work. Sad but motivated to finish my snack, I returned to my workstation. After a long day of work, I prepared to leave when my uncle told me I could make sushi for my father for the upcoming Father’s Day.
I made him our best-selling tempura roll while adding my special touch. Even though my uncle was an austere boss, he still cared for his brother-in-law and me.
Throughout the summer, my uncle stressed an important factor for success –time management. The first time he lectured me, I asked him if I was doing something wrong. He told me that in order to become successful at what I was doing, I had to manage my time according to the scenario. Acknowledging the valuable idea, I started timing myself to maximize my working efficiency. Near the end of the day, my shift was almost over but my uncle and I noticed my replacement had not shown up. As my uncle saw me preparing to leave, he asked if I could cover for her. Knowing that I was the only person he could depend on, I paused for a second and agreed. When my double shift was over, my back was throbbing. But I felt helpful after supporting my uncle, who only had three breaks during the past three years.
Working at my uncle’s restaurant was difficult but rewarding as well. I knew I had made the most of my summer by helping someone I cared about and learning valuable skills like time management and empathy. As I cleared my workstation after my final day, my uncle asked his workers and me to enjoy the afternoon outside. Sitting on the bench with a cold refreshment, my uncle did something I had never guessed he would –he offered me a cigarette to show he respected and admired my growth into a man. As I reached for it, he said in a jocular tone, “Hey guys! Look at this kid!” Laughing, I knew it was to good to be true.
Long after hanging up my sushi apron, I still remember the cacophony of the kitchen. From washing the dishes to making my own sushi roll, my uncle has taught me more than just valuable life lessons. He gave me a chance to augment life skills and at the same time be rewarded. People might think that I just made sushi and packaged boxes but I remember what my uncle said during my last day at work: “It is not a person’s job that determines him or her, but what he or she gains from it”.
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