® A Day in the Life: The Private Party

During the early part of the 1980s I was a staffer at Honda's corporate U.S. headquarters when it was still in its original location in Gardena, California. Gardena was an interesting city, originally planned as a uniquely Japanese community, and in the early days the only city in Los Angeles county where gambling was permitted. (In fact, in 1940 when Las Vegas itself boasted of only one, then-just-built casino, Gardena built one right after. Which has nothing to do with this story, but it's interesting history.) All of the big Japanese companies were at one time based in Gardena: Sanyo, Hitachi, Sony, all of them. Even Kawasaki had an office there in the beginning. At American Honda, or AHM as we called it then, the employees had company parking stickers that had different colors depending on your employment level. I don't recall all of the different colors, but two colors I remember well: red for people at my level, green for executives. One late Friday evening I decided to do something I seldom did, and I went looking for a restaurant for a late supper. I ended up in downtown Gardena, and parking the car and walking through the restaurant parking lot, I observed sort of subconsciously that there were more than an average amount lf Honda Accords in the lot, which at that time was Honda's fanciest car. Swinging open the restaurant door, I was surprised at the darkness of the place inside, and quickly glimpsed almost everyone sittting on the floor rather than at tables. With a presence of mind that was unusual for me, I turned right around and head back to my car, and along the way I noticed that virtually every car in the parking lot had a green AHM parking sticker.

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