Should you thank the person who handed you your pre-commute latte this morning for getting up early on your behalf? Should we thank the mechanic we paid to change the oil in our car? Do we owe a debt of gratitude to the store clerks whose job it is to help us find the new sweater in our size, the batteries for the garage door opener or the shelf with the cannellini beans? Isn’t our patronage enough?
These were the kinds of thoughts generated in an email conversation among editorial board members this week when a news release from the Regional Transportation Authority caught our attention.
“With the simple act of a heartfelt thank you or even a thank-you note, riders can show their driver, ticket agent or the conductor who checks their mobile Ventra app that they are much appreciated for their dedicated service,” said the release extolling Transit Employee Appreciation Day March 18. It encouraged riders to download thank-you notes from the RTA website, submit commendations to CTA, Metra and Pace or use #LoveTransit in social media to praise the men and women “who work tirelessly to ensure our safe and smooth commute.”
Recalling recent news stories that described the enviable pay and benefits these men and women receive for their “tireless” service, some of us wondered whether we might have the foundation for an engaging wisecrack to fit somewhere in our commentaries. Others in a less cynical mood wondered whether we didn’t have better things to do with our time and space than foment outrage over a simple suggestion to say thanks.
But to be clear, no one suggested outrage. It just seemed to some board members a little cheeky for an agency to ask its customers to go out of their way to thank its employees for doing the job they are paid well-to-do. And isn’t it?
At the same time, though, does it really demand so much of us to acknowledge the many things others do for us every day, whether for pay or not? If you watched the video we posted this week of two Schaumburg cops saving the life of a toddler on Higgins Road, I bet you felt plenty grateful for the training, skill and concern those officers get paid for.
In fact, though not many of us are out saving toddlers’ lives, I suspect that, knowing what no one else sees that goes into doing our own jobs, most of us feel we’re owed a kind word once in a while above and beyond our paychecks. Indeed, perhaps what we really should have is an Everyone Else Appreciation Day, when we all go out of our way to say thanks to each other and to the many train agents, bus drivers, store clerks, mechanics, baristas, waiters, managers, janitors, plumbers, builders, lawyers, accountants, teachers, police and, yes, reporters, editors and photographers (you should have been here at midnight Election Night) who serve us in subtle but important ways every day. We can still argue matters of equity in pay, of course. But it’s not so hard to also just say #Thanks now and then.
Jim Slusher, [email protected], is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jim.slusher1 and on Twitter at @JimSlusher.