Two little words. Yet they mean SO much (when used correctly).
I’m in a business that doesn’t let me hear that often. I work solely to make my supervisors look good. They take credit for my work, make it their own, under the guise of making our Commanding Officer look great. I rarely hear “thank you” because I’m told ” you don’t get thanked for doing your job”. Well no, but crap I do on the regular – not my job. I’m a “jack of all trades, master of none”. People think they know how to do my job better than me and then, when they flub it up, it’s my job to fix it. And I may or may not be scolded for allowing them to screw up.
Such is life when you’re in the military.
There’s a new blogger in town, frtzkrn, and he got me thinking about the fact that we, as military members, get a lot of “thank you”s when we’re out and about. As a matter of fact, I was at Pizza Hut (don’t judge me) the other night and an older gentleman stopped me and said “thank you for your service to our country”. That made my night.
I’ve had run ins with people who don’t feel like that. In Wal-Mart (again, don’t judge me) one afternoon, Beanie and I had to stop and pick up dog food, I had a “gentleman” tell me that I was wasting my time being in the military, that I’d only get screwed in the end, and that if I was smart, I’d get out while I was still young. To be honest, Beanie was the only thing stopping me from handling this guy in the manner I saw fit. Instead, I simply told Beanie (loud enough that this man could hear) that not everyone was grateful for that everything they’ve been given and that, when you throw your life away, you become bitter at others for no reason. He, rightfully so, got irritated and stalked off. I was applauded.
But I didn’t do it to make a fool of him. I didn’t say these things simply because he lacked proper dental care (and teeth). Or that he was wearing pajama pants (at 3:45 in the afternoon) that could only be acquired after purchasing enough cases of Budweiser and earning a signature pair of their logo’ed pants. Or that he didn’t realize he had already heckled myself, E, and Beanie on a different sunday because we were wearing Ravens jerseys (while he was sporting the exact same pants). I did it to teach a life lesson to Beanie. People want to cut you down for the things you do because they’re jealous. Whether it be they’re jealous of the attention or they’re jealous of what you have, they want you to fail because it would make them feel better about themselves.
What did this man have to prove by telling me that I was wasting my time in the military? Did he think I’d immediately quit my job? Does he know I can’t do that? Sure, the military is the last legal form of slavery (it is, for real. Read our contracts). But it’s not a bad gig. The deployments suck. Being away from your family sucks. Missing milestones suck. But you’re a part of a family that will rarely let you down. We just recently had two guys whose wives gave birth. We got two new little Coasties into our family. They were welcomed with open arms. We showered them with gifts. That’s what family does. We celebrate with one another. When someone loses a family member, we send flowers and someone, anyone, will show up to show support. That’s what we do. Nowhere will you make friends that will continue the friendship 8 years down the road, after 3 different duty stations, while you’re each on a different side of the country.
E took me out for Veteran’s Day and we were approached by our waitress who told us how awesome we were for Beanie’s behavior. Normally, when you see a small human being seated near you, you roll your eyes (I do it and I have a kid so don’t act like you don’t). You don’t want to have to shout to your dining partner because some parent wants to allow their child’s self-expression to continue at an extreme decibel or you have to get your food to go because some kid is all up in your face because their parent wants to ignore them for a meal. (We’ve encountered this pre-Beanie). Beanie sat in her chair, watching Mickey Mouse on the iPad and only asked for milk and bites of her dinner. Because we work hard not to raise an asshole.
We were thanked for that.
Hearing the words “Thank You” is probably the most selfless thing a person can do. Making someone feel appreciated is one of the greatest gifts you can give.