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August 22, 2006

Something nice ....

Every now and then something happens that makes you take another look at your own self-image and how others see you. Yesterday was one of those days.

Now perhaps I had better explain a little about this first. I have been with my present employer for around fifteen years, and during that time I have fought many battles, losing some and winning others. Time will tell whether or not I won the important ones or not. In all of the history of the place of my employment we have had an officer's mess, since 1992 and the start of the take over by non-uniformed and non-service staff, it has been known as the "mess club", but the traditions of the original concept have stayed the same. Until recently. When I had the privilege of taking over as President some ten years ago the finances were in trouble mainly because our lord's and masters had cut off our income streams (membership fees were stopped and the concession we had operated was taken away from us, awarding it to a contractor without consultation or compensation). It fell to me and my small team of helpers to rebuild it - which we did successfully, turning a projected 6k loss into a 7k surplus by the end of my Presidency. It wasn't easy but it was achieved. All went well until the latest tranche of parachutists arrived - and promptly laid claim to the silver, the income (again) and ordered the cessation of "formality".

Now it was the clubs tradition to present to each member on departure or retirement, a lead crystal engraved decanter and two tumblers, total value about £45 a set. The club funded this itself, it did not come out of any purse held by the organisation. Naturally, if you cut off the income, then the ability to buy these gifts vanishes as well. So I faced the prospect, along with several others of equal length of service, of leaving shortly and not having even this mark of our service to look back on since the club is now struggling to survive at all. Ironic really, since it was me that changed the Constitution of the mess to embrace all members of staff and extend this little gift to them as well. So, civilian members of staff who left in the last three years have all walked away with the full gift, but those of us leaving now, whose service to this place goes back a long way and is the reason it actually exists, will get nothing.

But last evening I was left speechless when a colleague, who will be retiring at about the same time as myself, walked into my office and presented me with a familiar looking presentation box. In it was the decanter and one tumbler, the other is damaged. Apologising, he explained that he had been presented with a decanter when he had left after his first spell of service here and knew that he would not get another. However, when he had found this set in a cupboard he was clearing in his office he felt that I ought to have it as he knew too that I would not get one officially and "can't think of anyone who deserves the acknowledgement more than you do."

I still don't know what to say. Even if someone does come up with an "official" one, this one will mean more to me than anything else. Who gives a damn about the idiocy of the management when you have the privilege of working with people like this? And that is a fact - I have had the privilege of working with guys (and some girls) in whose company I would be prepared to take on the Hell itself. Just give us the tools (and a good water supply!) and we'll finish the job, in spite of the management.

Posted by The Gray Monk at August 22, 2006 10:29 PM

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What an endorsement! At least the people who matter care.

Posted by: The Postulant at August 22, 2006 11:28 AM