LESSON FROM A RAINY DAY
August 26, 1999 is a day that many New Yorkers would probably like
to forget. However, this New Yorker will always remember that day
because that is the day that I learned what a powerful gift appreciation
can truly be.
On August 26, 1999, New York City experienced a torrential downpour.
The relentless rain caused the streets to flood and people to run
for cover. New York Citys subway system came to a screeching
halt as the subway stations were inundated with water. Unfortunately
this happened during the morning rush hour.
Many people who were going to work were stranded and forced to go
home. Some battled with fellow New Yorkers to hail a cab or to get
on a bus. Still others braved the storm, walking miles and even across
bridges to get to work.
I happened to be one of the thousands of people on her way to work
that morning. I went from subway line to subway line only to find
that most service had stopped. After running around like crazy and
making my way through crowds of people, I finally found a subway line
that was operating. Unfortunately, there were so many people waiting
to board the subway that I could not even get down the stairs to the
platform. Undaunted and determined to get to work, I decided to take
the train uptown several stops and then switch back to the downtown
train. It was a hassle, but it paid off. However, the train got more
and more packed at each stop. People pushed and shoved. I was constantly
hit with elbows and bags. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity,
the train reached my stop at City Hall.
But the journey was not over yet. I would still have to walk several
blocks to get to my office. The rain had intensified, and no umbrella
was big enough or sturdy enough to withstand the fierce forces of
Mother Nature. When I finally got to work, I was soaked just like
the rest of my coworkers. My clothes and shoes were completely drenched,
and I left a puddle of water everywhere I sat. I was also exhausted
from my commute.
My coworkers and I spent most of the day drying off. When 5:00 rolled
around, I was ready to go home and get out of my wet clothes. I was
about to log off my computer when I received an email from Garth,
my Deputy Director. I opened the email and found the following message:
I would like to thank all those associates who made the effort
and eventually reported to work. It is always reassuring, at times
like these, when employees so clearly demonstrate their dedication
to their jobs. Thank you.
As you can see, Garths email was short and not necessarily
a literary masterpiece. But I learned more from that brief message
than I ever did from a textbook. The email taught me that a few words
of appreciation can make a big difference. The rainstorm and the transit
troubles had made me miserable and weary. But Garths words immediately
invigorated me and put a smile back on my face.
Garths actions also made me realize that words of appreciation
not only make you feel good but they also motivate and inspire you.
After reading his email, I felt that coming to work was an accomplishment
that I should be proud of. Suddenly getting wet and the extremely
long commute did not seem so bad. As a matter of fact, his email made
the whole subway ordeal all worthwhile.
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our lives and get so busy that
we forget the magical power of appreciation. Garth had been caught
in the rain like the rest of us. He had to tend to his responsibilities
as Deputy Director. He also had to cope with the numerous absences
in the five areas that he manages. And he had to take on his boss
responsibilities, as she was unable to get to work. Yet, he still
found time to send an email thanking his employees for their dedication
and the extra effort they had made to get to work. Garth taught me
that I should never be too busy to show people my appreciation and
to acknowledge the positive things they do. It was the most valuable
lesson that anyone could ever give me. And for that, I will always
be grateful to Garth.
August 26, 1999 may have been one of the darkest days in New York
City history, but it was one of the brightest days in my life thanks
- End -
About the author:
a 28-year-old native New Yorker who lives in Whitestone, Queens.
A Chinese descent, a graduate from Townsend Harris High School in
Queens in 1991 and from Boston University in 1995. Currently working
at the Teachers' Retirement System of the City of New York (TRS),
enjoying freelance writing and doing community service.
Contact the author
your comments to chinatown-online.com