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Yellow Slip Day

Yellow Slip Day

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In my mind, it happened already. That proverbial Pink Slip Day, when you empty the puny contents of your office desk, exchange one final set of forced pleasantries with your almost-former employer, then gratefully, indignantly, lease-on-life-fully march out into the big wide world.

Outdoors, you deeply inhale the fresh air, keenly noticing brilliant silver clouds abloom in the indigo sky. Liberated, you shout into the crisp afternoon: “Seize the day!”

I wasn’t caught pilfering Post-Its, or downing too much coffee from the company pot

But it didn’t quite go down with that level of resounding thud. I wasn’t caught pilfering Post-Its, or downing too much coffee from the company pot. To be sure, I wasn’t even handed a pink slip that day. My employer simply stated the obvious: over the past few years, there had been rapid growth within the company. This created a pressing need for the expansion of my job description—in short, the hiring of an executive drill sergeant. Of course, I would be welcome to accept the new position, but there was a troubling memory that lingered. In the not-so-distant past, I had emphatically insisted that two particulars of this new job would be tantamount to stilt-walking the Grand Canyon.

Recognizing this offer to be well beyond the scope of my skills, I could not—nay, would not—step into those shoes.

Is it possible that there remained the lingering backdrop of an earlier encounter? I am a people person. I thrive on expression and the awesome beauty of human connection. Once, when discussing my job description, I thoughtfully mentioned how I intended to create a positive environment in the workplace. It was pointed out to me that, although my intention was noble, it was not on my job description whatsoever.

Like most boring work stories, my tale weaves too many mental figure-eights to expound upon. The exciting, delighting and, well, igniting part is how I choose to arrange my mental picnic. Here it is, the red-and-white checked tablecloth: Opportunity! Here they are, the basket of delectable cheeses, bread and wine: work experience, fond memories, being able to write additional chapters for How to Deal with Difficult People, and—I smile here—also being blessed with a chance to reaffirm my love and affection for that gorgeous phenomenon: The Human Experience.

Hello? That is not on your job description. I mean, that was not on my job description. Dale Carnegie, do I hear you sniffling?

I do not and cannot write scripts for my employer or colleagues. However, I do write scripts for myself. While my choice of words is often spontaneous, the sentiments deeply entrenched in my psyche spill into the words I choose. Number one: Divine Providence. Number two: Appreciation. Number three: Decency (or the more colorful word, mentchlichkeit).

Had I wreaked such professional havoc that no praise was merited?

While discussing the new development with my employer, I was positively thunderstruck by the perfect timing. Upon reflection, I am also deeply grateful for the privilege of personal and professional growth at my company. Ultimately, I am at peace with the transition.

But I do admit that it would have been nice to hear: “You are wonderful. You did a great job. Oh, will we will miss you, for it is most glaringly apparent that you are Louis XV incarnate.” Alas, no such praise was uttered. After all, we were busy discussing my not returning. Maybe my stellar work performance (or the lack thereof) was not exactly the point of the conversation.

Even. One. Small. “Good Job.” Would. Have. Sufficed.

I mused: Is it possible that I had sunk the company ship, devastatingly bringing down all its employees, ignorantly unaware? Had I wreaked such professional havoc that no praise was merited? I dare not think.

I took the opportunity to share with my employer: “You are doing a great job.” I do notice and recognize the colossal effort put into running and maintaining the company. I am glad I expressed my genuine appreciation and respect. Noble of me? No, decency.

Nora Ephron’s mother bequeathed to her the following wisdom: “Everything is copy.” From the mundane to the infuriating, it all makes for a great tale and, I add, a life lesson. A scholar and beloved relative wisely paraphrased: “Everything in life is metaphor.” My personal metaphor, like a streaking meteorite, illuminates my consciousness. Yet it doesn’t extinguish, but rather burns brighter with every passing day, clichés notwithstanding.

The lesson, and there it is, flashing so brilliantly I couldn’t possibly ignore it: Model the change you wish to see.

So, I introspect. Do I appreciate G‑d? Myself? My spouse? My children? My siblings and friends? Have I ever genuinely thanked my parents? Not just for items purchased or help with homework, but for simply being my parents? Do I appreciate my doctor? Do I appreciate the very gift of appreciation?

If I do, and how deeply I do, how have I expressed my appreciation today? Yesterday? Over the course of my thirty-seven years?

Do I appreciate G‑d? Myself? My spouse? My children? Have I ever genuinely thanked my parents?

I propose Yellow Slip Day for all of humanity. One day, of the 365, will be designated for heartfelt appreciation. First, we might compose a list of all the people whom we appreciate and would like to thank. We would then pen a thank-you card to each person. If you are the phone type, then work the phone. Text messages and e‑mails, while not unheard of, would be a last option.

For G‑d, every day can be a Yellow Slip Day. We can thank Him with daily prayer, as well as acts of goodness and kindness on an ongoing basis. Appreciation, like a lit candle, burns more brightly when shared.

Ben Azzai teaches: “Do not scorn any man and do not discount anything, for there is no man who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place” (Ethics of the Fathers 4:3).

As you drive up the winding neighborhood street, slow down for but three minutes. Compliment the aging gardener laboring over her tiny but meticulous garden. Tell her that she is a green thumb par excellence, and how her garden enchants the city. Watch her smiling through your rearview mirror as you drive away. I know I just did.

I believe that July 20th is the perfect time for Yellow Slip Day. Summer is here, and grass and flowers are already in bloom. The sun shines strongly, ushering in growth and rebirth. I am stocking up on thank-you cards just about now. Also included in my long list of recipients: my (former) employer.

By Gnesia Feigin
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Gnesia Feigin June 23, 2014

Four weeks until Yellow Slip Day! Let's start unrolling the yellow carpet for Yellow Slip Day!
This year I'm going to start by sharing heartfelt appreciation of Chabad.org.
You continually inspire, illuminate, and gladden. May all those who facilitate this magnificent endeavor be richly blessed! Reply

Bracha Ebriani Los Angeles, CA August 1, 2010

great article! I reallly enjoyed your writing style and learned much from your experience. Looking forward to reading more of your work--I hope you continue writing! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma June 30, 2010

your slip is showing I have discussed this idea many times. If being positive takes such small effort and makes such a big difference, why not always choose to be positive, or do some little thing that will make another person feel good? How hard is this?

As to praise, I think yes, Nature is so beautiful and there is so much of awe to all of this, from starry starry night to rosy fingered dawn. To the miracle of life itself. Laughter in the face of it all. Courage too.

I cannot always praise God. I have to wonder about the intense and unjust sorrow in this world. A child with a brain tumor, a beloved friend with Parkinson's, the terrible cruelty I see around me, injustice in the courts. There is this question WHY, and maybe is sounds a lot like Whine, but all the same I ask, and I think there is a master story that does surround it all, but all the same, I feel we are "prey" to some very sorrowful and difficult times. Reply

Gnesia Feigin NY, NY June 30, 2010

APPRECIATION: TODAY AND EVERY DAY! Dear Readers,

How wonderful to see your stories, and receive positive feedback. :)

Happy Yellow Slip Day to All!! Reply

Anonymous USA June 30, 2010

Losing the job Not all job losses are bad. I was fired from an extremely high-stress teaching position at a private school after I (justifiably) flunked a major donor's niece and the uncle told them I go or his money goes. As soon as I drove off school property, I felt my blood pressure fall 20 points. The first thing my husband said when he got home was "You're glowing, you must have gotten fired." I had to stop him from sending flowers to the principal. Within 2 weeks, I had another teaching position at which I could have fun instead of dreading the day. Reply

GF June 30, 2010

Talk about Divine Providence! I was just reading today in a "Positive Psychology" book to list a few things each night we are thankful for and how that increases one's happiness.
And now this. I'm definitely going to try it!
I also really enjoy your writing style and joie de vivre, and really respect how you turned around the hurt, by doing what you would've liked done. I'm sure that made you all the stronger.
Thank You, Reply

esther voluck sitka, AK June 28, 2010

yellow slip day Wonderful! rock on! Reply

Brocha New York, NY June 28, 2010

LEMONADE "Yellow Slip" day is appropriate here. As the author has made some serious LEMONADE with her lemons! Well expressed. Reply

yehudis cohen brooklyn, ny June 28, 2010

wow So true,, powerful. Very well written! Reply