September 24, 2013

I recently attended GoGaRuCo, which was a great conference. My favorite part, however, wasn’t directly attatched to the conf itself: it was a few moments of thankfulness.

A lot of what I’ve been experiencing lately has been profoundly negative. That is what it is; there’s a lot of realy negative things in the world. But I’ve been a bit… overloaded lately.

The two moments tie into each other:

I’m at the speaker dinner. I bumped into someone I hadn’t met or said hi to yet. “Oh hey Steve, I’m Sam.” “Oh hi! You don’t know how many times in the last few weeks I’ve said ‘Sam Saffron makes me so happy.’” You see, Sam works on Discourse, and it’s a Rails app. Sam’s work on Discourse has identified some bugs and performance regressions in the Rails codebase, and Sam has been submitting some great pull requests upstream. Lately, I’ve been feeling like nobody who uses Rails actually cares how the sausage is made, and so Sam has been a bright spot in my day. So I told him so, straight to his face. It felt really good to say thanks, and I hope I made Sam’s day a bit brighter, as well.

A couple times at the conference, someone would walk up to me and say basically the same thing for some other reason. It felt really good to have my work appreciated; the day-to-day grind of GitHub issue triaging can really make you feel crappy. Basically:

An image from Notion

negative comments

The Oatmeal is often problematic, but this one really rings true.

Anyway, I’m not trying to fish for compliments here. I have a fairly high profile, and I hear this more than most. What I do want to emphasize, though, is that I’m sure it’s not just me that feels this way.

So, if someone does something that you appreciate, please take a moment to say thank you. Especially if they’re not someone who happened to get up on a stage and give a talk. Be specific: a generic ‘thanks for what you do’ is nice, but ‘oh man I lost two hours on that bug and your patch saved me’ is even nicer.

You never know. They might have been having a bad day too, your thanks might turn their day around.