Not getting your due — and liking it

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

It's just not fair. You're the one who sat at that traffic light forever, and then when it finally changed, some idiot in the lane beside roared through first, without even slowing down.

It's not right, proper or acceptable. You did the hard work of waiting, and someone else reaped all the reward. I am — (oops, sorry, Freudian slip) I mean “you” are — right to still be angry about it.

In a fair or appreciative world, that late-arriving driver would pull up to your car window, hand you a medal, and say, “Thanks so much for waiting on our behalf. We really value your efforts. Now please go through first — you deserve it.”

But as you may have already discovered, this is not always a fair or appreciative world.

Fortunately, you work in long-term care, and most of your successes are unsung anyway, not to mention that you're frequently serving elderly folks whose contributions have been forgotten as well. So doing the hard work for people society has ignored, while others in sexier professions with more obvious results grab the spotlight, is certainly nothing new.

You're also in good company. Did you realize that since 1941, the nation's highest military recognition of valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, was awarded posthumously more than half the time? In other words, those heroes were already dead when they finally got the recognition they deserved. And I'm offended I don't get enough credit at a traffic light?

I'll never forget hearing the adorable and sedating Dr. Ben Carson tell an American Health Care Association audience a couple years back that he chose to dedicate his gifted hands and surgical magic to children, as opposed to older folks, because “I like a return on my investment.”

Perhaps he didn't understand that your efforts in this profession are your return — and what you do isn't for recognition or reward. You don't care who gets the credit when the light changes. You're just glad to be there, helping people through.