Words make the soul feel good

I spend a lot of time writing about depression, cancer, sleep disorders, and generally unpleasant stuff.

Today I’m writing about a letter my boss received a little while ago. I was the subject.

In my line of work, or just about any line of work I suppose, a letter to your boss is usually not good. Letter writers tend to be motivated by anger, or some negative emotion, probably because it’s more likely to be well fed and grow strong. Folks rarely feel compelled to put their praise on paper, let alone get up the gumption to fold it, stuff it, stamp it, and mail it.

Now that I think about it, I could do a whole post about anger versus joy, but I don’t want to. So I’m not going to. Now I’m going to move on.

I didn’t take the news well. My boss led with the comment a copy sat in my personnel file already. Isn’t that great? I’ve managed to avoid a single official complaint for over 15 years of public service. I take pride in it, if you’ll allow me this small bit of vanity.

Well, it turns out the letter wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty good.

It was from a recently retired Judge I used see regularly. It talked about my reliability, knowledge, character… most of the stuff you’d see in a glowing letter of recommendation. I won’t bore you with a recitation of the whole thing, but I’d like to share the last few sentences.

Serving for 30 years as a Marine Corps officer, I evaluated the performance of literally thousands of young men and women. John would rank in the top five percent of all of those evaluated.

(My employer) is fortunate to have John, a truly loyal and dedicated employee.

It’s not poetry. It wouldn’t make a great speech.

But it choked me up. I’m such a softy.

My job has its own rewards. I don’t stand around waiting for someone to heap praise on the agency hero. I know I’ve helped people, from the tone of their voice when we speak, to the numbers in a report.

I know I’ve disappointed people too. No one is perfect.

However, reports don’t do too much for me and the recent political climate increasingly paints me and my ilk as greedy, lazy, over-paid, and under-achieving. There’s apparently nothing we can do the private sector can’t do better – with a roster of trained quadrupeds.

Rumor has it we hate apple pie too.

OK, I’m done ranting and raving. I’ve wiped all the foam and spittle off my chin and keyboard. Raise your hand if you could have done without that visual. If you think that was whiney, you should have seen this post before I cut a few hundred words.

Anyway, all of this is a long way of saying it’s nice to know someone noticed I’m not as bad as the GOP would have you think, even if it was just words put to paper.


Give the gift of words.