Thursday, May 03, 2012

Being the recipient of gratitude--or not

Sometimes being on the receiving end of gratitude (or not) is as challenging as being grateful.

Being gracious when one is thanked is an art.  One does not want to make light of it ("it was nothing") because a.  it probably wasn't "nothing" and b.  that demeans the pleasure of the one thanking you and also demeans their thanks.  "My pleasure to do it for you" might be better, although the second puts the emphasis on oneself, and heaven knows we have enough of that.  Saying "thank you" back reminds me of a student who sent me a rather tongue-in-cheek thank you note for a thank you note I sent him.  "I am grateful for your gratitude and appreciate your appreciation."  The simplicity of "You're welcome" and a smile stands the test of time.

I bring this up because I brought breakfast to my two classes taking final exams this week and received precious few thanks from my students, as if they were entitled to breakfast.  I brought juice, yogurt, bananas, strawberries, and snack cakes (Walmart Little Debbies), so there was some effort in it, since I had to carry two heavy bags across campus along with the paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils.  Maybe four out of forty said thank you.

Of course, I didn't do it for thanks (or maybe I did?) but I didn't expect being treated like my effort was expected.  Perhaps they were embarrassed.  Perhaps not all of them ate it (not all did).  And perhaps some of them were raised under a rock and don't have manners.

Jesus healed ten men from leprosy and only one came back to thank him, so I got about the same percentage, and to be honest, being healed from leprosy is a whole lot better than some yogurt and snack cakes.  Jesus said the disciple should not be above his/her master, so I can't expect so much.

And I am reminded that a textbook company brought food in (to sell us a product) Monday and I haven't thanked the person who arranged it.  Which I will do right now.

However, this and some recent happenings have persuaded me to not go out of my way for students anymore.  Be a good teacher and fulfill my office hours.  That should do it. 

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