Silent Appreciation

Sometimes, at work, we do these appeciation activities, which sound excruciating when described, but I actually don’t mind so much. I am not a trust falls type of person but the stuff we do at work doesn’t bother me. One that often gets done is a variation of something like this: slips of paper get handed out. On each slip of paper, you write something nice about a co-worker. You put their name on it, but not yours, and then they all get collected, and then you get all the slips of paper back with your name on it, and you have a nice pile of complimentary appreciations about you to take home and put under your pillow, or sew together into a quilt, or shred up and sprinkle onto your ice cream sunday. Or something.

I think the idea behind this activity is nice. Ok, yes, it is cheesy and contrived, and maybe this doesn’t work so well in a situation where you hate your co-workers and the nicest thing you can think to write on a slip of paper about them is “I love the way you leave the office every night because that’s when I know I won’t have to see your STINKIN’ PUSS until the next morning which makes me cry with happiness instead of the constant stream of sobs I utter when I can smell your curdled soul in the cubicle next to me.” But in my case, I like my co-workers, so it’s not like that.

One thing that is funny to me about this activity, though, is that it really highlights to me that my “work persona” is very low key. People at work don’t know me for my propensity to fall down, or my ability to quote screwball comedies of the 40s, or my love of all the cusses, or my very silly sense of humor and tendency to giggle 90% of the time. Because at work, I am…well, WORKING. I’m concentrating on my one-million-item-long task list and running around getting information out to The People like the godless commie librarian that I am. I don’t have a lot of time for acting the fool when I am at work, at least not overtly. I save all that shit up and cut loose, footloose, at home and with my friends. At work I am kind of a librarian machine. A smiley one, but still.

So when we do these activities, I get little slips of paper that say things such as…

I appreciate how you deal with everything so calmly.
You always make me feel much more tranquil about everything.
Thanks for keeping the workplace around you so serene.
Your quiet leadership is much appreciated.

Calm. Tranquil. Serene. Quiet. I’m not kidding. I have a whole pile of little slips of paper and they all say very nice things, and I am not complaining, but THEY ALL SAY THE SAME STUFFS.

I showed BioGirl this pile of compliments the other night.

Her: Wow. From now on I am writing shit like this in your birthday cards and such.
Me: I know, right? “You are like a vast desert…”
Her: “You are soundless, like Bambi in the thicket…”
Me: “I love that you are like a wordless poem…”
Her: “Your muffled spirit is so inspiring…”
Me: “I barely see you, and yet you are there…”
Her: “You are like snow falling on a winter’s eve…”
Me: “You’re like the wind…through my tree…”
Her: Wait. Are you quoting Patrick Swayze?
Me: Shhhh. I’m being tranquil.

I’m out,
Librarian Girl


  1. We do something similar, but it is ongoing. We have a fish bowl in the conference room and a bunch of paper fish. When someone does something extra special you put their name on one side and thank them for whatever they did on the other. It feels a bit less contrived because people are doing it spontaneously, instead of in a mandated fashion.I did wonder as I read your story; Has anyone NOT gotten a slip? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

  2. I second Marie. How many co-workers do you have? I work with about 10 people, but most of them have a snobby little high school clique thing going, and I can imagine that they would only write slips for each other–leaving the a few unpopular cootie people (like me) in the cold… I like the fishbowl idea! Fishy fun! And could be totally anonymous as opposed to kinda-sorta-hope you don’t recognize my handwriting.

  3. what if you don’t get any slips back? what if someone else gets a huge pile? I sort of like the idea, but I’m worried about the person who gets nothing, like the kid picked last for kick ball, everybody knows it

  4. I heard a story about a hight school teacher who did this with her students. When one of them was later killed in Iraq, the notes written about him were found in his personal belongings. When the teacher went to the funeral, some of the other mourners, who had also been her students, told her they had kept thiers, too.Don’t know if this is a true story, but I sorta hope so.

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