Terrie’s and my first Thanksgiving together was sure to be slim. I was a nineteen-year-old Bible college student, and I wasn’t exactly what you would call wealthy! At the time, I worked for Caterpillar Inc. in City of Industry, California. I was thankful for my job and grateful for the opportunity it gave me to provide for my new bride.
About a week before Thanksgiving, Jim Anderson, the General Manager gave every employee a small turkey. I could hardly believe his generosity—this few pound bird would mean that Terrie and I would have a Thanksgiving dinner.
My amazement was compounded, however, when I heard the older guys at work complain about the size of the turkey. (It actually was very small.) “What does Jim think we’re going to do with a bird this little anyway?” “He’s cheap—he just gives us this game hen to make us like him.”
I brought the turkey home, and Terrie and I enjoyed every bite. I also wrote a thank you note to Mr. Anderson. It was pretty simple—I just thanked him for his thoughtfulness and let him know I appreciated my job. I sent the note; we ate the turkey; and that was the end of the story in my mind.
A few days later, I was shocked to see Jim Anderson approach me on the loading docks. He had asked his secretary to look up where I worked and then asked someone to point me out. He walked over and shook my hand. “Paul,” he said, “Over all the years I have given company employees a turkey for Thanksgiving, you are the only one who has ever written me a thank you note. I just want you to know that I appreciate that.”
One simple note of thanks meant so much to this manager of a prestigious company that he found time to seek out a nineteen-year-old laborer to tell him so.
One thank you note can make a difference, and if you’ve ever been the recipient of an unexpected note of thanks, you know this is true.
All of us are the recipients of others’ investments in our lives. Sometimes we write off these investments as small or insignificant. Sometimes we just forget. Sometimes we don’t even notice.
But one simple thank you note can mean the world to someone else. It assures them that their investments are not in vain, that their giving really does make a difference, that they have made an impact on your life.
Who do you need to thank today?