Keep Your Word, Be a Hero.

Last night I forgot to go out and buy soy milk for the baby.  We had half a container left and it wasn’t a NOW NOW NOW emergency, but I still told Theresa I would, and I forgot.  So this morning without being bidden I got out of bed a few minutes early, and while Theresa was in the shower I popped out to the store.  When I came back she and I were joking around and I pointed out that I was happier correcting my own mistake without being reminded than I would have been if she had pointed out my mistake.  She replied (rightly) that I was trying to get credit for doing my job… so no dice.

She was right of course… I am not a babysitter, I am a father taking care of my son.  If I told my wife that I would buy milk yesterday, I should not expect credit for remembering to buy it today.  That is the way I am, and the way most people should be.

More on that later…

When an e-mail blast came across my smartphone this morning from a training company that I have never worked with but respect, I was surprised to see that it was for a course that started on Monday.  Normally these last-minute frantic requests are tagged with ‘I have a trainer who is deathly sick’’ or ‘My trainer’s mother died.’  This one was ‘MY TRAINER BAILED ON ME.’  I felt bad, and since the class is one that I am qualified to teach, and because the work I have planned for the next two weeks is writing work that could as easily be done from a hotel room as from my office, I replied.  When the deal was all but signed, she told me that I was a hero and should have a cape and theme music.

While I think having my own theme music would be cool, I don’t think I would be much for capes.  I am glad that I can pull her fat out of the fire, but it got me thinking about what a hero is.

Having served in a forward unit of the military I fully understand the most common usage of the word, but there are a lot of heroes out there that don’t get recognized.  A mother who raises her children is a hero to them; at work the people you rely on every day in order to get your job done may not seem like a hero… but ask the person I am dealing with whether she thinks the trainer who ditched her could have been a hero.

The old adage says that oxygen isn’t important until you aren’t getting any.  People who do the day to day jobs that allow us to do our day to day jobs may not seem like heroes, but where would we be without them?  His irresponsible actions – essentially breaching his contract – would have caused my contact to through no fault of her own be in breach of contract with her client, which might have resulted in legal actions and penalties but would certainly have resulted in severe damage to her reputation.

Am I a hero for taking this gig?  Of course not; I am a contractor who is glad to take the gig.  My contact is paying the difference between what the other guy was willing to charge and what I insist on charging, but that is surely less than what it would have cost her to not fill the trainer spot.  I hope the trainer who reneged on his contract did so for very compelling financial reasons (he told her that they just weren’t paying him enough) because I am reasonably sure that he will never work for this company again.

When I say that all you have to do to be a hero is to keep your word, I mean it… if you don’t feel that you are appreciated for what you do, see how much worse it is when you don’t do it.

Have a great week-end everyone!


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