Just a moment to say thank you

Today’s post was written by one of my English Composition II students, Crystal Riley, on the topic of the motivation of gratitude. I have known Crystal since junior high school. When God allowed our paths to cross again and for me to serve as her instructor, I felt truly privileged and have enjoyed watching her grow as a person and as a writer. I have learned at least as much from her as she has from me–isn’t this the beauty of teaching?

We all have had someone to wait on us and say thank you for your patronage. Have you ever really said thank you back to the person who waited on you in a way that was meaningful?  In my life I have had several jobs that required me to wait on people.  It is not a gratifying experience.  Sometimes I wanted to say, “Here is your crap, please don’t come back!”  I never did; I always took the time to force a smile and say thank you. I got so good at the routine that I caught myself sending off my unwanted family guests in the same way I thanked the unwanted customers who left the store.

There was an old man who came to the gas station every morning at 4:30. I made his coffee and waited on him every day.  I thought he sat in that booth sleeping until his friends came in shortly after.  All the old men would drink coffee and share stories.  My shift ended at 7:00.  Every morning just before I closed my drawer, he paid for his breakfast and told me I was a good ole’ girl or told me how good the gravy was.  He always said something nice; he even commented on how well I had shined the floors!  I never thought much of it.  I always just thought he appreciated that I personally filled their cups instead of making them get up to get their own coffee.  It was a small thing.

Later I worked at a video counter in the local grocery store and missed the old men from the gas station.  One night my old man came in, and I waited on him and his granddaughter.  He had been left to babysit.  I helped them select a video, and as he was paying for it, he thanked me.  He had a genuine smile and kind eyes.  He patted my hand and told me he knew I was a nice girl.  It is a crazy thing that the way he said thank you to me just made my day even if the praise didn’t come from my boss.  I told him I just loved waiting on him and how nice he was.  He responded that it costs nothing to let someone know that they are doing a good job, but it could mean the world to the person doing the job.

I thought about him often and what he said.  I’ve had some of the worst jobs you could imagine, and I think about my co-workers at times, and how awful things are for them. I make it a point to say thank you when someone helps me, to take that extra moment to let them know I appreciate them.

It only takes a moment, and it may be the only kind word that person hears all day.  If we all just take a moment to offer a word of encouragement or take a moment to simply be kind, we could all make a world of difference in how someone’s day goes. I never knew that old man’s name, and he never called me by my name, but I think about him because he was so nice, and his extra words of encouragement made my day nearly every day.

Day 12: Dear Bethany

*Today’s post is written by a frequent contributor, former co-worker, and wonderful friend, Debra Dickey. When Debra sent this to me yesterday, it surprised me, it humbled me, and it overwhelmed me with gratitude for HER. That’s the beautiful thing about gratitude–when someone expresses it to me and thanks me for being me, I naturally want to do the same in return, and to others as well.*

Dear Friend,

FriendHow are you?  Fine, I hope.  All’s well here.  Trust the same with you.  You know, the other day I was thinking about how fortunate I have been to know you, and that you should know how grateful I am for the generous opportunities that you have shared, and continue to share, with me that have been integral in the direction and flow of the path that a certain part of my life has taken.  Your unselfishness, exuberance, strength and integrity are beacons that shine clear and bright on any given day!  I enjoy conversations with you, as well as spending time with you – whenever our schedules allow for that.

This pretty much began when I first got to know you — your work ethic and positive personality impressed me right away!  And who wouldn’t notice your laughter and wonderful sense of humor!  All too soon you moved to a different position, and then, as now, I rarely saw you anymore.  Hmm, obviously there was a ‘plan’ already in place (imagine that!) — I just didn’t know it yet.    But I knew you were doing great things.   Although I was new and didn’t quite have my bearings yet, in time, you encouraged and supported me as I wrestled with the ‘loyalty vs. new setting’ decision to make the timely move to your office and begin working with you.  My friend, it was one of the best decisions I ever made!!!  I will always be grateful that you were the reason for that excellent opportunity.

BethanyI LOVED working with you!  You were fun, and made the job fun.  Not only did you teach me the practices and protocols for our essential job functions (while having fun!), but this was also the time frame when I got to know the extraordinary people who are so very important in my everyday work environment, as well as the ins and outs of this particular community to optimize those professional interactions that will always be so critical in creating efficiency and positive outcomes in my job.  Who could ask for better on-the-job training?  Awesome!

I will tell you that I initially wrestled with that decision because I was going through some dreadful mind-numbing stuff in my life and did not want that baggage to leak over and create issues in my work life … only later did I learn that you were struggling with your own heavy burdens and encumbrances that were creating a terrible heartache and sadness in your own life.   Incredibly, you still always gave 110%, and never failed to exemplify professionalism with your positive attitude, your innovative and creative ideas, and your daily acts of kindness.  I’m infinitely grateful for such a great work and mentoring experience.

Never to be the same, this association ended way too soon, as you were off to other places in pursuit of more suitable climates.  I understood, but I missed you!  However, in your graciousness, you continued to stay in touch with me, which almost made up for your absence.   I was very glad that you found time in your busy life to stay connected – so thoughtful!  It meant a lot to me.

My friend Debra with my daughter

My friend Debra with my daughter

After some ramblings combined with a wonderful new life, lo and behold, you are back, almost next door – Yay!  And continuing in your typical style of generosity, you are now allowing me the amazing opportunity to broaden my horizons yet again by accepting my attempts at creative writing to post on your blog. Thank you for this, before now, unrealized opportunity.  Another heartening endeavor for me at this point in my life.

I am grateful for all these things and more – I am grateful for you. I delight in your successes, I cherish how much you have shared with me, I am touched by your experiences, and I am your biggest cheerleader!

I appreciate your friendship through it all.  Thank you, Bethany,

Love, Debra