Life as an Extreme Sport

under a bus

There’s been a lot of language about not throwing people under buses, and being careful in action. I learned today just how one way that expectation can really be. While I’m trying not to be pissed off, I’m furious. I’m livid, to be honest – madder than I have been in a long time.

I spent a long time talking to someone who’s found the most adorable animated bear for “giving hugs” online, and we talked about how similar we are in hating large gestures and big compliments. I realized, when talking to him, that the big gestures are almost offensive because they seem to imply there’s something special about just doing my job. And I am many things, but I am not lazy, and I have a strong and fiercely determined work ethic – once I become involved in a project, especially emotionally, or if I at all begin to view it as mine, I will work my ass off to make it the best thing possible. Because that’s what you do – that’s what it means to have a work ethic.

I hate giant expressions of gratitude for doing, what at the very basis, is simply doing my job. S~ has compensated for this by saying things like “I know you hate compliments, but you’re the [fill in the blank].” It’s humorous and gets the point across.

But when we were talking today, we realized we’re the same in that for us, expressions of gratitude are the small things – as are expressions of empathy, friendship, etc. It’s the picking up of a latte when at Starbucks, because you know it’s what the person would want or because you’re just thinking about them. It’s about giving rides to the airport, or picking someone up. It’s insisting on taking someone out to dinner as a thank you for a specific project, or a birthday. It’s leaving a bottle of wine as a gift, unsaid, because you think it will be enjoyed.

These small things for me are the things that say “I appreciate you.” I know I’m needed – it’s not arrogance, it’s simply knowing I’m good at what I do, and that I pour my heart and soul into it, because if I’m going to do something, I’m going to be excellent at it. That’s just how I am. For me, what matters is those small gestures of appreciation and shared time. Of, for example, S~ spending the hour talking to me he didn’t really have, this afternoon, when he realized how upset I was, because he knew I was upset and that talking was just the thing that was important.

Maybe that’s it, too – about prioritizing importance. You can tell me something as much as you want, but if your action doesn’t match your words…

I don’t know. I’m tired, I’m angry, I can’t lift something as simple as an empty suitcase to pack, and didn’t have a chance to FedEx the boxes of packages – which means I do it in the morning and risk losing the important parking spot, or just figure out how to get it on the plane with me. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed, because I had the rug pulled out from under me, and was unable to complete several long lists of things I had made and needed to do prior to leaving.

Maybe in three days I’ll laugh about this. I can only hope.


  1. When I first started reading this, I was going to say that you may not “like” it, it’s really important for people to express to others that they’re doing a good job, rather than just harping on the occasions when something isn’t done perfectly. It doesn’t matter if you do it because it’s your job and you’re supposed to, it’s still important to feel appreciated for your hard work. Positive reinforcement fosters morale, which in turn fosters a positive organization that will thrive and grow.

    *Ahem* Don’t mind the org theory geek over here. I got off track …

    As I continued to read this, however, I saw your point was entirely different from that which I originally thought it would be – in other words, you feel that if the person isn’t sincere, they shouldn’t bother. I definitely can’t dispute THAT fact.

    So, I edit my above statement: Sincere positive reinforcement fosters morale, which in turn fosters a positive organization that will thrive and grow.

    In other words, well said. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I think we agree – I had to figure out where you were getting the sincerity thing from, but I think it’s from the saying versus doing bit.

    I like knowing that I am appreciated. It’s just that for me, fostering morale and showing appreciation isn’t in grand gestures, it’s in the small things. It’s in the smiles and jokes and friendly kind things done – not in single giant gestures. And I prefer it to be a gesture rather than words – and if it’s going to be words, just something simple, a thank you. “You’re amazing, you’re the best, you pulled an amazing trick…” While any of it may be true, it’s… just too much.

    Thank me for doing my job, reward me for doing exceptional work. Make sense?

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