I got married recently (about a month and a half ago now) and spent last Monday writing thank you cards. My wife had done most of them, but she left me the ones to my friends and family that she didn’t know as well, so I had about 24 left. If you’ve ever had to write thank you cards, ones that go beyond simply writing the words and signing, you’ll know that they’re not really enjoyable. It’s quite a time investment, and it’s really difficult to figure out what to say. Still, April assures me that it is important to write them, so I did.
People came to our wedding and gave us gifts, so it was pretty clear that we needed to thank them. It’s harder to remember to write similar “Thank You” messages at work, but they are equally (perhaps more) important. I don’t hold with the idea of using them to gain political capital or suck up to someone, but when you are helped out or your boss really goes to bat for you, you need to recognize that and thank them.
I’ve been putting off writing a couple of emails to this effect for the last few weeks, mostly because I’ve just been too busy. (Ironically, I got really busy right after starting this blog, so I haven’t had much time to update it.) Our VP elected to use some salary savings to buy us all new chairs, which is really exciting. We sit at our computers a lot and our current chairs aren’t all that great, so having new, very ergonomically tested and designed chairs, will be extremely nice, both mentally and physically. It’s good to take care of ourselves physically so we have less medical costs, but it’s also encouraging that our boss(es) care.
And it’s encouraging/affirming to them to receive thanks. I can’t claim to really know what it’s like to be a boss (I manage some student workers, but that doesn’t seem the same to me), but I imagine they mostly hear the negatives and not many of the positives. For them to continue to support us but have to deal with all the meetings and whatnot, it must be kind of trying at times. If they’re going to support and provide for us, I think they deserve to be recognized for that. To be made aware that we know they’re working hard on our behalf, and that we appreciate it.
It’s weird, really, when you compare the situation to the employer-employee relationships of the thirties, forties, etc. We don’t need a union, and there’s no threat of us going on strike… I think, like a friend of mine recently observed, it’s just wonderful to work in academia. It’s like a whole different world.