We were talking at work about compliments recently and I found it interesting that people remember some rather unusual things as their favorite compliment. As with any other human behavior, it is personal to each of us what means much or little, and often we don't know something will be meaningful in the moment.
I've had two compliments in my life that I remember. I'm sure I've had more than two, but these two were particularly meaningful. They aren't compliments of the ordinary sort, so I will explain.
I was working ambulance and we had a big grinder (wreck - 4 cars) out on Hwy 46 East which is where James Dean was killed. We had three ambulances on scene and I was doing my job, nothing special. We ended up changing partners as my partner and another EMT were doing an extrication, so I drove one of the other rigs to the hospital. The best thing for a trauma patient is a lead foot, and I have one of those. At one point on the way in, the medic stuck his head into the cab from the back and said to me, "I forgot how nice it was to ride with you. Thanks."
He was busy and didn't have to say this, but I have remembered it because I loved being an excellent driver.
The other compliment I remember was when I was working as the charge in the ER. One of my nurses asked me if I thought I could run the department if the opportunity came up. I was about to answer her when one of the ER docs started laughing. We turned around to see what was funny and he said "Are you kidding? She could run a small country."
I loved that too.
So the things I've remembered have been comments on my ability, not my looks or my clothes or my possessions. The conversation at work made me think about how I compliment others and what I base it on. I hope and will aspire to tell them something meaningful to them, and to take the time to find out what that might be.
My son, at 13, is in that place where nothing anyone says makes a difference, and yet everything does. I'm trying to teach him to filter, but I don't know if what I'm saying makes him feel good, or if I'm scarring him for life. Writing about him in the blog is probably not a great idea in terms of a childhood unscathed, but it illustrates the point of making your words count in your everyday life.
Taking the opportunity to thank someone who said something meaningful is another good goal, and one I failed to realize the importance of until recently. So, thank you Dr. John, and thank you Wes. I've never forgotten your kindness.