I attended the wedding reception of a friend last Friday. Brad and Kristen were your typical young kids in love. Couples in Utah tend to marry young. Brad is 21 and his bride is even younger.
It was a beautiful reception with all the fixings. A Peter Pan theme, food, a PA system, italian soda (the families are non-drinkers), and of course a table full of gifts.
We decided to not give our “typical” family gift. We put some cash into a card. For family we tend to get a little more creative. We give a gift that generally the bride and groom’s parents think is great and the young couple are slightly offended by.
Yes, it’s a handtruck. A convertible one that turns into a cart. We think it’s the perfect wedding gift. We’ve given it to a half dozen nieces and nephews. I recently talked to my brother-in-law about it.
Oh, Janice hated it.
Absolutely, she was pretty mad about it.
Huh. . .
Of course, she got over it.
We often don’t appreciate what we are given at the time we receive it. I know I don’t. I was working for a large non-profit and my position had been eliminated. Rather than lay me off, they “put me on the bench.” They kept me on the payroll and looked for a spot for me. During this period I happened to be talking to Kent. He was in charge of our monthly data center maintenance.
He maintained these immense spreadsheets of minute by minute tasks that had to be performed in a specific order on the night of the maintenance. Just looking at them made me tired.
Kent, I’m sure glad you have this job and not me. I’d be terrible at it.
(You see where this is going right?)
Yup, a month later Kent transferred to another department, mostly because he hated doing the maintenance work. My manager called me in.
I’d like you to take over the monthly maintenance project. It’s a mess. But, I’m sure you can get it into shape.
Yeah, sure. Be careful what you wish for. Wait, I didn’t even wish for it. I said I DIDN’T want. it. So, I dove in and started to pull together a team. I started building my own spreadsheets. I improved on Kent’s sheet. And before you knew it I was looking forward to the maintenance projects. And as I started to love my job, the rest of the team started to respond. We cut down on our outages associated with maintenance.
Our customers started out seeing the monthly maintenance as an interruption of their work and after several months they were coming to me asking if they could include some of their own tasks into our maintenance windows.
And it became the best job I ever had. You never know how something that initially seems terrible eventually becomes appreciated.
So, what made Janice change her mind?
Ha, ha. She had to move. The first time they moved she told me how much she appreciated your gift. I’m kind of disappointed actually.
Oh? Why’s that?
I was kind of hoping she’d decide to leave it at our house.
Like I said, we think it’s the perfect wedding gift.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.