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. New York City’s 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 to get to work.
I happened to be one 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 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.
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 enough to withstand the forces of Mother Nature. When I finally got to work, I was completely soaked and left a puddle of water everywhere I sat. I was also exhausted and discouraged 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. 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, Garth’s email was short, 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 Garth’s words immediately invigorated me and put a smile back on my face.
Garth’s actions also made me realize that words of appreciation not only make you feel good but it also motivates and inspires you. After reading his email, I felt that coming to work that day was an accomplishment that I should be proud of. Suddenly getting drenched 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 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. 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 he 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. This 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 to Garth.