I've been with company X for about 13 years now. Maybe it's 12, nobody really knows. Once a month, I go through the personnel records and send a company-wide e-mail thanking employees with hire date anniversaries in that month. This kind, simple act results in a domino effect across the company for about half an hour, with everyone hitting the "reply all" button thanking and congratulating those who are celebrating their anniversary. It's the only recognition of service we offer. There are no pens, paper weights, silver swans or crystal vases, just a series of e-mails. Some months there is no e-mail. It's not because I forgot, it's just because no one was hired in that month - EVER. Well, okay maybe there was someone at one time who was hired in that empty month, but they're no longer employed there and so a thank you for their service really isn't necessary.
I've tackled this 5 minute task every month now for about 7 years. So, assuming that 10 months out of every year there is an anniversary, that's 70 e-mails that I've initiated celebrating and thanking people for their dedication and hard work in helping to making our company a success. No one has ever once asked when my anniversary is. No one has ever once inquired about the date, the year, the month, or the number of years. I know, sad and pathetic, right? Wah!!! Poor me. Poor, poor me. Hell, at my last job, I got a fancy ass writing pen after 2 years of service.
I ran across that pen the other day, along with an etched name plate I received from yet another previous job. They were stored in boxes along with other personal items I'd brought home from those offices upon my departure. I've seen the boxes before, but for some reason I had never been able to go through them and sort the items or dispose of them. Instead, they remained sealed and labeled, "Personal items from Company A" and "Personal Items from Company B"
I went through them this time, though. And when I ran across the luxurious velvet box containing the fancy pen, my heart skipped a beat. "My PEN! I got this from Company B in recognition of two years of service!" I called out to anyone in the house willing to listen, "LOOK AT THE PEN I GOT FROM COMPANY B - THEY LOVED ME!!" I carefully set it aside. I might actually use that pen, I thought. Maybe I'll take it to work with me Monday and when someone notices it and asks about it, I'll tell them I got it from Company B after only TWO years of service - lay a little guilt trip on 'em you know?
When I got to the box labeled "Company A", I immediately saw the beautiful etched name plate - solid glass - so pretty - I felt so important, so special, so grown-up when I got that name plate as a gift from Company A that year. I sat in a cubicle in a rat maze in an office that did not have public access. I never understood the reasoning for the name plate - there were only 5 of us - I'm pretty sure we all knew each other's names, although that one bitch never did act like she liked me, so she probably never knew my name and relied on that name plate to identify me. My fingers traced the etching of my name which was written in cursive, the transition from one letter to the other was smooth and flawless. The only gap in the etching was between the first and last name, and as my finger slid across the smooth glass to the first letter of the last name, it hit me, "hell, that's not even my last name anymore!" And with that - I tossed that fancy schmancy etched name plate right into the garbage box. Then, without another thought, I grabbed that fat gold-plated pen that I'd gotten from Company B and I threw it in the box with the name plate. Then I grabbed both of the larger boxes containing all my other "personal" possessions from those jobs and threw them in the trash pile as well. Gone were the expired Tylenol, echinecea tablets, moldy coffee mugs, business cards, clumpy oatmeal packets, ragged tampons, and all the other little treasures I'd harbored all these years.
And then it hit me - I love certain aspects of my job. I love the luxuries that it affords myself and my family. I love that I've been there since the Ice Age and have reached that point in my tenure where I earn more vacation than can be used in a year and still stay on top of my duties. I love that I'm trusted and valued and can pretty much come and go as I please, because at the end of the day, everyone knows I will get my job done. But mainly, I was thankful they didn't give out service awards, I mean, there are only so many pens a gal can use in a day, right?