Avoiding the Reward that Awards Not Being Rewarded

Advice is something I try to avoid giving. Everyone forges their own path, learning from their own mistakes until they flail their way into contentment or aloofly slump their way through an existence plagued by discontent. As someone who has gleefully toiled in obscurity, enjoying my work (outside of a heinous stint at a credit union) with only reward being the occasional “thank you,” I feel confident in giving out one piece of professional advice: Do not pursue or accept a job where the best case scenario is that nobody notices you did a good job.

This may seem like the crappiest job, but she's catching it for a reason, someone is probably going to have to comb through it to assess the elephant's health.
This may seem like the crappiest job, but she’s catching it for a reason, someone is probably going to have to comb through it to assess the elephant’s health.

Confused? Let me give you an example: Air traffic controllers have an important but ultimately thankless job. If you want to prevent airline crashes and that’s your desire, please, continue to watch Tin Cup and take air traffic control with a grave seriousness, but just know that no one is going to congratulate you for never having a crash on your watch because that’s the entire point of your job. If someone notices you or recognizes your work as an Air Traffic Controller, that means you goofed and hundreds have died.

Even if death is not involved, jobs where you only get noticed if something goes horribly wrong ought to be avoided, like a boom mic operator. The only way a boom mic operator is going to get recognized is if she/he monumentally goofs and dips the fuzzy microphone on a pole into the shot of the movie. The pressure isn’t to do good, it’s simply to not do bad. That’s the problem with these unrewarding jobs, it’s more about not doing bad than it is about doing good or even doing mediocre. Allow yourself to have an off-day.

In case you were confused, this is a boom mic operator.
In case you were confused, this is a boom mic operator.

Secret Service is a noble profession. Completely respectable. You protect the President of the United States, and, sometimes stand around disgusting megalomaniacs who think simply running for President on a whim is a fun thing to do. But the Secret Service don’t get a ribbon for having a President NOT get killed on their watch. There’s never been a ceremony or award given for a president’s kid successfully surviving high school. “And the award for not allowing  a murder goes to Geoff Sibley. Geoff did an average job of keeping an earpiece in while not getting the anyone assassinated. Well done, Geoff, and thank you for not allowing the first family to get murdered to death.” (In case they’re reading this: You’re doing a great job, Secret Service, no need to investigate me, I’m just trying to make the ha-ha’s. Love what you do.) This never happens. The reward for doing a good job is nobody noticing you did a good job.

Also, can someone please get me off the No Fly list that I certainly was added to for that last paragraph? If so, I’ll be the first to thank a TSA agent for doing something other than when people sarcastically thank them for confiscating a 4-ounce bottle of Pert Plus.


Add yours →

  1. The elephant poop women resembles Gloria Steinem. It makes sense. She’s put up with a lot of shit. I hereby invite the boom Mike Operator to my house to dust the ceiling fans. I’ll get you off the no fly list. Don’t worry.



  2. Debra She Who Seeks March 14, 2016 — 8:06 am

    Well, I left a very long and hilarious comment but the bloody computer ate it. So fuck it, now this is all you get.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In my experience, actually getting recognized for doing a good job can be just as bad as having your screw-ups highlighted. Know what you get for having your hard work noticed? MORE work! They actually have extra assignments just laying around waiting to dump on the first poor idiot who even gives off even a hint of being slightly more capable that his peers. Lots of extra assignments!

    Trust me, you don’t want that.


  4. “Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines” -Stephen Wright


  5. There are a lot of jobs like that. Most people who work at public utilities have the same situation going. I never call up my power company to say, “Hey! I just flipped the switch for my overhead light here at home, and it came right on! Good job!”


    • Agreed, however, I would argue that if you’re at the utility and solve that person’s problem, the customer is quite grateful. Kind of like a police officer. No one in need of a cop is happy about it, but once the cop solves the problem, they are pretty happy the cop was there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So true and of course there are many other jobs that people do that never get noticed or thanked for.


  7. Now I understand why I am not better motivated to come to work. I hope I can stand it for a few more years. Maybe I’ll find glory in retirement.


  8. Everyone has had a thankless job. I was a Lab Tech at a hospital. Never thanked for getting lab results back to ER before doctor really needed them. But we were always the nurses scape goat when they forgot to order some test for the doctor’s patient. Bitches.


  9. abeerfortheshower March 15, 2016 — 2:39 pm

    My thankless, non-rewarding job once upon a time ago was sliding member ID cards at a rec center. And one time my manager actually commented that I was doing a really good job. I didn’t say anything, but I laughed after he left and just wondered what that possibly could have meant. “This kid slid over 200 cards today while everyone else only slid 150. I’ve never seen anyone swipe a card faster! What’s his secret?”


  10. Welcome back! I did notice that you weren’t blogging for a little bit there (almost tweeted at you, but….got lazy. sorry.). Anyway, what’s that make blogging, if i notice when you’re not doing it!?


  11. My brain usually works in similarly strange ways as yours, PVP, so I’ve often already thought about things that you pontificate here. But this time, I never have. That’s impressive. Next time I have coffee with an Air Traffic Controller, I’ll say (no, I’ll sign or shout) “Thank you for not letting the plane crash so that people like me could still be alive! You’re awesome like that.”


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