I’ve been working with the same company for over four years now and was recently reminded of how I’d gotten started here to begin with. When I first was hired, within the month my boss had to take a two-month leave of absence (he broke his foot really badly). Instead of freaking out that I was all alone and new and all of that, which it didn’t even occur to me to do, I kept plodding along doing my job. Where I was able to I would help with my boss’s job as well. I remember at one point helping him load cat litter into his car and being happy to help.
Well, my boss took off on a (MUCH DESERVED, the man rarely leaves the office) vacation and will be gone for a few weeks. I’ve been so concerned over how I’ll ever manage without him that I wasn’t doing everything I could. Letting fear block you doesn’t accomplish much more than the bare necessities! You’re lucky if it does, too! Thanks to great friends and remembering how easy it was for me when I first started here I realized it’s not a big deal. I’ve been able to accomplish so much more as a result. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a huge relief when my boss comes back, but I will survive and excel even if he isn’t here!
So in bringing up the memories from four years ago I realized something ELSE. I used to E-Mail my boss every time a customer sent a thank-you or “OMG she’s awesome!” to me. He’d be happy that the customer was happy and that I wasn’t an evil villain (I’m only an evil villain on Tuesdays, and Wednesday is bedtime) or whatever it is overlords feel when they see their minions properly appreciated. I got an E-Mail today from a user who was absolutely happy with the support we provided and made sure we knew. I skimmed over it and moved to check my next E-Mail item when I stopped myself. How many times have I commented or wailed over the stuff customers do that bug me? It’s not something I’ve done my entire employment. “I wasn’t always this way,” that excuse people throw out to the world, ran through my mind. Well who cares if I was not always this way? The past is the PAST! Who you are NOW is who counts. If I want to be that person again I can start by appreciating people who are thankful for what I do. I can stop lambasting and back-stabbing good-intentioned people who maybe don’t know exactly how to say something. If everyone knew how to find their DNS or setup a router as a dummy switch, I wouldn’t have a job! Being the person you can look to for the answers is a privilege, an honor, and something jaded people cannot appreciate. So I’ve scrubbed off my corrosion and am looking toward the future more positively. There are many things I can do and even more that I cannot. I will do what I can and learn what I can so that I will be of more use to those who need it.
My reasons for being in a customer-facing support position are many and varied. There’s a personal satisfaction from being of use. There’s the exhilaration of following the threads of a puzzle while untangling the knots you encounter. Most importantly though, helping someone because you have the capability makes everyone feel good. The past year I’ve let myself forget that. It’s turned into what I want and what I need and how my job isn’t good enough for me. When asking myself the question “well what job would be then?” the answer always made my stomach hurt and I’d avoid it. Usually thinking something like “NOTHING! NOTHING WOULD!” made it hurt worse. If I’d listened to those physical signs I might have seen what I knew all along: this job is perfect for me, and I just forgot. Yes, I do write and draw. Those are my hobbies though, my personal creative outlets. They’re how I keep my Personal Deity from frowning at me because I explode over things that don’t matter, or explode at all. My Personal Deity isn’t too fond of my outbursts of anger and she cringes in horror at the same outbursts in other people. Letting it all out CREATIVELY keeps us both happy with each other. The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument that you don’t really care about but are arguing because you have to be right (which is my biggest flaw, I can’t be wrong. Stubborn as a mule here.), instead of responding to the well of rage you feel, try grabbing a pencil and stabbing at paper with it while attempting to doodle. Eventually you’ll stop ripping the paper to shreds and something beautiful will emerge. You can stop doodling once you find the beauty in what you’ve created; until then, munch on popcorn or something.
Ps and Qs are something of a “lost art” in a lot of those from my generation. The children of my gen are very rarely thankful for anything and can’t understand why you would say please. From a very young age my son was taught to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Unfortunately some of the people in his life will do what he asks regardless of his thankfulness, so they wind up getting treated fairly badly by him. He’s a very sweet kid but he’s still learning how to navigate this world and doesn’t yet understand that you don’t have to walk on every doormat you see. My own grandparents were never ones to allow me to get away without saying please or thank you. Consequently, I didn’t grow up believing they were my minions. Even if you find someone younger absolutely adorable and can’t resist giving them everything they want, just remember, you’re setting them up to be jerks when they grow up. I’m not trying to give parental advice here. Parents will teach their kids whatever they want. Some parents care about how their children will maneuver through the world as adults, and some don’t. Children are growing and learning and should have as much fun as they can. Fun does not preclude etiquette. I don’t mean the pinky-in-the-air type, but the basic fundamental words we use between friends and strangers that shows we are civilized people. If it doesn’t start with the parents, that doesn’t mean you have to be their kids’ slave. You yourself can demand the proper words and refuse to provide their request until they have. If the parents get mad at you for it, it’s really not your problem. Obviously whoever raised their parents was equally jerk-y.
My point in the Ps and Qs is that who we present ourselves as to other people will affect their responses to us. If we are polite and friendly, it opens the door to reciprocation. Some people might run away because they think you’re nuts though. Don’t let that get you down! Even if they run away, it changes their view of the world just a bit, and they might not react that way to the next person who does the same. Little by little we can make the circle of people we exist within happier and happier by simply saying “Thank You” when they’ve done something to help you. We can say “Please” instead of making demands, no matter how innocuous. We can say “You’re Welcome” when someone politely says “Thank You” so that they know you’ve heard them, acknowledged them, and appreciate their thanks. That same holds true for compliments, by the way! I’ve long responded with uncomfortable body language to people who have complimented me. Shrugging, looking away, talking about something else. A few of my friends will DEMAND that I say “Thank You” and will glare at me until I do. Someday I’ll do it without the shrugging and glaring!
So to wrap things up: if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your life, take a look at the steps you took to get where you are. What were your reasons? If you feel the steps were out of your control, look back further until you can see where you last made a decision based on your own happiness that started you on the road you’re on. Use that as your new starting point and try a different path this time. If you discover you’re actually happy with where you are now and only feel periphery things should change, by all means, continue as you are. I’ve re-learned to find pleasure in the simple things on my path that I’ve taken for granted for years now. When a simple thank you from someone you’ve held the door for lights you up inside, you know you’re on the right path. Don’t let yourself fill with anger if they don’t even acknowledge you; just let them know they’re welcome anyway (WITHOUT the use of sarcasm). They are most likely actually thankful, but don’t know that there are words to express it.
Love your life, Live your life! Mmmm, chocolate!