Saturday, November 14, 2009


Years ago, shortly after I joined the company where I've worked for the past ten years, I fixed a problem with the program that processed outgoing invoices. It was a particularly obscure and vexing problem. Several programmers had looked into it without success. Perhaps, being relatively new at the time, I approached the problem without any assumptions or preconceptions or perhaps I was simply able to focus better because I was not yet bogged down with other work. Whatever the reason, I eventually found and fixed the problem.

After the next batch or two of invoices had been processed correctly and it became apparent that the problem was, indeed, a thing of the past, I received an e-mail that a co-worker had addressed to the entire I.T. staff, including my boss, which read:


Andy found and fixed the program that was fouling up WCUD01 for much of last week and the beginning of this week. On drop ship orders with substitutions and multiple invoices, any invoice after the first would pick up the account values for previous invoices and, of course, not balance.

NO MORE ----- Andy has fixed this and our mornings should run much smoother for 2000 and beyond.


I smiled and moved my mouse pointer over the DELETE MESSAGE button and was about to left-click when I suddenly paused and decided instead, for no particular reason, to leave the message in my In Box for a little while longer.

Some time later, I helped out the CEO's wife with a simple printer connectivity problem. Normally, PC and network-related problems were not my area of responsibility, but it was during the Christmas shutdown, with almost no-one in the office and I was on duty, covering the Help Desk phone, so I investigated and, again, fixed the problem. I thought nothing of it until the following week, when I was copied on another e-mail which the CEO's wife had sent to my boss:

Sandy, just a brief note to let you know of the assistance provided to me by Andy this morning. I came to work to print some letters and year end documents. Unfortunately, I had no luck as there appeared to be something wrong with my connection to the printer in HR. My contact in MIS was Andy. He came right away and stayed with me to fix the problem. He was successful and I felt that you should know of his wonderful co-operation. Thanks to MIS and especially Andy. Hope that you and your family enjoy good health and happiness in 2000.

Again I smiled and then, remembering that I had never deleted the e-mail about the invoice problem, I created a new e-mail folder, named it "Kudos" and moved both of the e-mails into it.

As time passed, I helped with other issues and, every once in a while, someone would be impressed or thankful enough to send me an e-mail saying so. Each time it happened, I would add the e-mail to my Kudos folder. Last week, I counted the messages in the folder. There are 33 of them. That's an average of 3.3 things I've done right for each year that I've been with the company. Not bad!

You're probably thinking, "Well, aren't we full of ourselves?" Not really. Well, okay, yes, but that's not the point.

Times are harder now. The economic downturn has brutalized the company. Just yesterday, I learned that management's last-ditch effort to find a buyer who might save the organization as a going concern fell through. The company is to be liquidated, and I'll soon be out of work.

I knew that the company's prospects were bleak even as I browsed the messages in my Kudos folder last week. Still, the digital pats on the back brought a smile and helped me to forget the dire realities of the present for just a few moments.

From Harve:
I'm impressed! Great job in getting the payroll running again so fast.

From Cindy:
Thank-you - thank-you - thank-you so much ! What a relief after all this time not to have to print the OPLs manually ! I owe you one!

From Debbie:

From Sylvia:
Where have you been all these years?

From Bob:
I understand how stressful a situation it was for all of us, and I appreciate the extra hours everyone stayed, and Andy taking time away from his holidays to lend a hand, to ensure the system was operating properly and we were able to complete the shipment.

From Jo-Anne:
Your programs are awesome!

There's more, but I'm starting to blush. My point is that, after re-reading some of these, any fears that I had over my uncertain future largely subsided. It's as though all those people were standing over me, whispering "Hey, don't worry. You're good. You'll be fine."

In her famous 1997 Chicago Tribune article entitled "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted On The Young" (More widely known simply as "Sunscreen"), Mary Schmich wrote:
Remember compliments you receive.
Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
I think I've found a way, Mary. It's quite simple. Simply record the compliments. If they come in the form of e-mail or a printed or hand-written hard copy, file them away somewhere for safe keeping. If they're merely spoken, write them down yourself. Don't record the derogatory remarks. Just let them go.

People won't always go out of their way to pat us on the back when we do well. When they do, there's value in keeping some sort of memento so that we can bring it out to cheer us when we need a lift, like a trophy or a photograph of an old friend or a loved one.

The other thing that I hope you take away from this, Dear Reader, is the importance of acknowledging those who impress us and letting them know that they are appreciated. It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

1 comment:

Tubes said...

I agree, you will do just fine.

And thanks.