Writing and justifying praise

I probably spend too much time complaining about things that aren’t worth complaining about. So today I wrote a letter of appreciation through the military’s Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) system.

Typically, feedback sent through ICE reads negatively, since the type of person who feels motivated enough to write a comment does so out of anger.

In one of the jobs I held before I joined the military, I worked at a burger place in Los Angeles. I served as the janitor and sometimes the cashier. The sign to the restaurant described the place as, “All American.”

None of us were American. The owners were Russian-speaking immigrants. The laborers were Hispanic or Latin American immigrants. And the restaurant was spotless – we kept it immaculate and the customer happy, or else face deportation.

Well, I found it challenging to work for the boss. She never noticed the trash that wasn’t there or the dishes not in the sink. But she made it clear that she saw the dirty tables that needed my attention and the smudges on the windows, which I was just about to get to.

The same attitude runs common in my job today. We fail to recognize the one thousand good things a person does, but we all clearly see the one mistake he makes. I’m probably guilty of perpetuating this ignorance. Therefore today, I wrote my appreciation for these two civilians who work at my local installation contracting office.

Government is one gigantic Department of Motor Vehicles. When you come across good customer service in government, think of it as a unicorn – mythical, awe-inspiring, amazing, but doesn’t really exist.

These two men received my unit’s urgent request on a Wednesday, to have a requisition completed by next Monday, and… they weren’t dicks about it.

In fact, they would called to apprise me, to inform when and what to expect next. After running into a snag, they called again to tell me how they planned to overcome it, and at no further work to me!

Those two men work at a couple echelons above my unit. Between me and them is my parent unit. In it… well… I said I probably complain too much.

This finance officer threw 16 documents at me, adding up to over 40 pages, along with an alphabet soup of acronyms and initials that took all day to figure out. I played her game. I won. But it took all day.