De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


Giving Thanks

OK, so today is supposed to be Thanksgiving. I wonder, though, how many people are really all that thankful. It seems that true gratitude is largely a thing of the past.

To me, gratitude is a state of mind, not a set of words. Admittedly, I was taught as a child to show gratitude, but someone needs to "connect the dots" for kids so that they actually feel gratitude.

I've often joked over the years that I came into this world with nothing, and I still have plenty of it left. Maybe starting out with next to nothing is a good way to develop gratitude for what we have -- however much or little that might be.

Back in '91, when I got my first bus, I needed some work done on it. I called the guy who always worked on my Datsun pick-up, since he had a bus. He said he had his hands full, but gave me the number of the guy who worked on his bus, with the caution that I shouldn't give the guy any grief.

Anyway, I made the call and explained my situation. Sean told me when to show up, and I made sure I was on time (punctuality being another thing I was taught as a kid). By the time I got home, I had noticed how much better the bus was running and called back to say thanks and let him know I noticed the difference. In fact, he did such a good job that I wound up being a steady customer.

Over time, I noticed that even though he always had a yardful of work, Sean was always very accomodating at getting me in. One day, I mentioned that and remarked that I appreciated it. What he said next left me speechless. He said that of all the customers he had had over the years, I was one of the few who ever called him back to thank him for what he had done. I managed to stammer out something about that being the way I was brought up. All these years later, guess who I go to when I'm in Albuquerque and need some work done?

Fast forward a bit to when I got my first cat (i.e., the first cat that was my cat and not the family cat). Mauki had been taken from his mother when he was only three weeks old, and had spent the next four weeks in a shelter. Naturally, he bonded to me like SuperGlue. And I spoiled him rotten. Really.

No matter what it was he wanted, he got. I can only remember two times that I ever told him "No" and was able to make it stick. And even that wasn't for long. After a while, though, I noticed that no matter what I did for him -- big thing, little thing, I thought of it, he thought of it -- he'd always climb up on me, purring his little heart out and rubbing his face against my cheek and getting all kissy-face with me. How could I not dote on the little guy when he treated me like that?

Back in '02, I got recalled to active duty. Being a personnelist, I wound up working in Outbound Assignments, where we take care of those who are leaving our base and transferring to another one. Over time, I noticed that there were quite a number of people who seemed to think they had some sort of divine right to preferential treatment. Naturally, this didn't sit well with me. I serve without fear or favor.

One afternoon, after "normal duty hours", a couple of us were finishing up some stuff before going home and wound up having a little "gripe session". Along the way, I mentioned that what really rots my sox were all the people (and I named a few names) who would come in and badger the daylights out of us, trying to get us to do things they had no business asking of us. The main part of my comment was that none of them ever came back to say "Thank you". There were, however, others who would come in -- hat in hand, so to speak -- and humbly ask for something we probably should have thought of doing in the first place. They were the ones who would fall all over themselves thanking us for simply doing the basics of our job.

To me, gratitude is a state of mind, not a set of words. It bespeaks one's attitude toward others and toward interpersonal relationships. People who are truly grateful tend to be humble people who see themselves as being no better than others. Maybe the thing I'm most grateful for is having learned to be grateful.


At 02:51, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Yes Jahn, I totally agree. I grew up of meger means and I am grateful for all that Heavenly Father has given to me. I see so many people who think it is their right to have certain things and it drives me crazy. I don't know how many times I have given a wedding gift and I recieve no thank you note.

I feel completely blessed with all that Heavenly Father has given to me and I thank him daily... Nice post.

At 16:31, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

I was a field training officer on night shift for the PD. I did that for several years and one probationary officer out of all I trained would thank me at the end of each training shift for me efforts to teach him how to do the job. I thought that was interesting, sort of like the story of the lepers being healed.

On the other side of that coin, we gave our son a book shelf stereo for his birthday one year and it didn't match with his expectations so he showed a lack of gratitude. I told him not to worry, that I had the receipt and could take it back. I returned it and he got nothing that year. I think that said more to him about the attitude of gratitude than anything else I may have tried to teach him.

At 16:47, Blogger Jahn said...

Oddly enough, that story about the 10 lepers had crossed my mind. I doubt the percentages have changed over the millennia. Maybe 10% of the people come back and say "Thanks". Some days, that 10% is all we have to make the job worthwhile.


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