I got a real kick when I was riding home on the bus from work several years ago. I was sitting in a bench seat parallel to the side windows, across from an identical arrangement on the other side of the bus.
A woman seated opposite me was reading a copy of the publication I was writing for at the time. At one point, she lowered the tabloid and peered out over it at me. Without an instants hesitation, I realized that my fellow passenger had come to the page where the column I had written, accompanied by my photo, appeared.
Dont ask me how I knew that she recognized me. All I can say is that the look on her face was unmistakable. No doubt the last person she was expecting to see in the paper that evening was the guy sitting across the aisle from her.
Ive always found that one of the enduring pleasures of being a journalist and writer is the privilege of being able to sign my work, more often without my photo. Relatively few people get to do that, but writers, the shy show-offs as fiction writer, poet and critic John Updike calls us, do it all the time.
Good, bad or otherwise, we writers get to put our work on display and let people judge for themselves if its worth reading or believing. Like most people, we like to be noticed, heard and recognized.
What Ive done as a writer has received varying amounts of attention during my career. At one publication, feedback was infrequent. As a utility man in a public relations department, my notoriety was limited to ungrateful clients and the editors or reporters who might call for additional information.
At a small community paper, response to my work came almost daily. If one group was enamored of something I had written, another would surely be enraged. Nasty phone calls and letters to the editor were commonplace. But I didnt care. The important thing was that I was getting attention for my paper.
No doubt youve brought home a product and discovered somewhere in the packaging a little note that said something to the effect of, Manufactured with Pride by J. Jones.
Im not sure what the motivation is.
I dont think Ill ever meet someone named Jones and say, Hey, youre the one who makes the paper bags. I use them all the time at the supermarket. On the other hand, Im sure that J. Jones feels a certain degree of pride in knowing that her name is attached to the product she has a hand in producing.
But not everyones as lucky as J. Jones or myself when it comes to recognition for our work. Obviously, its not possible to apply that method in every business. Not too many people would want to have the names of the trades people who built their home emblazoned on the vinyl siding or masonry work. I, for one, dont want an autoworkers name below the nameplate on my car.
Its more important, and harder than ever, to make your employees feel like they are appreciated and making some vital contribution to the company.
I dont envy business owners who are trying desperately to attract good workers and hold onto the ones they have.
This is a problem that nearly everyone we come across frets over. If they can sign their name to their work or gain recognition for it in some other way, youre fortunate.
If not, youll have to figure out something else. I wish the news were better, but its not. Unfortunately, I still have to sign my name to it.
Wrangled Wisdom was written with pride and a certain need for recognition by Ray Marano (firstname.lastname@example.org), associate editor of SBN.