When I worked for the construction company, I finished this huge project, basically alone, on a pressure soaked deadline. It was something the division I worked for and my division’s management in particular had procrastinated about despite the constant nagging from the top of the company because they didn’t see how the project could work for our division. I won’t lie…it was hard. The project was not designed for our weird little niche at all, even though it worked alright for all the other construction divisions. There were a lot of special things that just didn’t fit. But the company basically said,
(If y’all haven’t watched Letterkenny? I recommend. It’s hilarious. A lot of Canadian vernacular you might have to look up if you’re not Canadian and a LOT LOT LOT of bad language, but…hilarious nonetheless. Anyway…)
I did figure it out. Basically by myself. I made this project no one wanted to work on and everyone else put off and many actively resisted run relatively smoothly for our square peg division. And after weeks of busting my ass and running myself down with everyone kind of staring at me to see if it would get done on time and work…it did. And my boss gave me…a mass market, cheap plastic mug that said, ‘I’m Appreciated.’ It was gray with black block lettering. You could see the plastic seam. Clearly no effort or resources at all were put into it. I know, right? I’d have almost felt more appreciated if they did nothing. I hadn’t met J at the time, and I didn’t have a digital camera to take a photo of it, but I did take the mug home and call my best friend to describe it to him. We had a good laugh about it…at the irony. At how the obvious lack of thought or real helpfulness of the ‘reward’ showed very evidently how little I was actually appreciated. I still have the mug. It reminds me to do more whenever I can than offer empty, throwaway gestures to people who bust their ass for me. And it reminds me to stand up and be counted and demand what I am actually worth and detail what would actually BE helpful and thoughtful when I feel it’s necessary.
Which brings me to my point here, I guess. The southern US is experiencing some uncommon and troublesome winter weather that’s left a lot of folks without power in the cold and kind of stranded. That’s on top, of course, of the ongoing pandemic we still aren’t really getting a handle on. And I’ve seen for the past year a lot of posts that are, ‘Nurses and RTs are heroes! We appreciate you!’ and ‘Shout out to all the doctors and scientists treating patients and figuring out vaccines!’ and ‘Grocery store/warehouse/food service workers and delivery drivers…you’re so appreciated!’ and ‘Where would we all be without cleaning crews and trash collectors right now?’ and with parents having to handle their own childcare and virtual school, I’ve seen, ‘Wow, teachers! Your job is so difficult! We love you guys!’ And now, with the weather, it’s, ‘Thank those people who work to clear the roads and keep the power running…’
Well…yeah. All of those things are true. And it’s good to think about hard working people and recognize their efforts when those efforts are spotlighted by circumstance. I’m certainly not saying we SHOULDN’T appreciate and thank them when we notice those efforts. But we should be considering these hard working people and how much what they do impacts our lives in a positive way EVERY DAY, not only when they are literally saving our asses. And I get it if all you can afford to do is say an internet ‘thank you’ with a meme; times are tough out there for a lot of people. But if you can help someone with physical needs or emotional needs who is working hard to keep the world running and make things work and make things better? You probably should. And if you are able to use your voice to vote and petition the government, making sure these people have thriving wages and good benefits through policy is also helpful and doesn’t cost you anything. I’m sure the folks working to get the power back on and the folks bagging your groceries and teaching your kids and treating your illnesses appreciate the thoughtful memes, but I bet they’d like guaranteed healthcare and fair pay a lot more. And those things would show they are appreciated EVERY DAY.
I understand the need to express gratitude, and I know that sharing the memes is easy. But they’re like that goofy mug I got. I’m not a greedy person, but I’d have rather had a raise or a bonus instead to recognize my special effort. I’d have rather had something that actually added to my own everyday security as a thank you. To be honest, if I’d have had everyday security already, that mug might not have felt so hollow and ironic to me.
So I’m posting this little sign here…
but rest assured that I do use my social voice and power and my personal actions as much as I can to uplift and protect hard working people EVERY DAY. Not just when the snow is on my power lines or when I’m actually sick or when my house is actually on fire. J and I try to give as much as we can to help folks in need, too. But just like my mug, again, maybe if they already had some everyday security, they wouldn’t need us to give.