Welcome to Unsolicited Advice, the weekly column in which I dispense advice to people who never asked for it and don’t know who I am.
Last week I offered some advice about what not to say to your terminally ill friends.
This week I’m offering another lesson in what not to do, this time to a young Canadian man who lost his job after complaining about the company Christmas gifts.
Hussien Mehaidli, 27, got upset when his U.S. based employer – a wholesaler for construction materials – treated the American employees to a box of delicious goodies for the holidays while the Canadian employees got a $6 bottle of company branded barbecue sauce. Mehaidli was so incensed he opened what he thought was an anonymous twitter account and blasted his employers.
“What kind of multi billion dollar company gifts it’s (sic) Canadian employees barbecue sauce as a holiday gift? Yet the USA employees stuff their face with an actual holiday gift box!” he wrote, tagging the company’s Canadian and US handles.
He also took a shot at the company’s CEO, who encouraged employees to “share something from the holiday gift box.”
“SHARE WHAT ?? !! MY BARBECUE SAUCE ?? To every Canadian Fastenal employee I am sorry we all had to go through this,” Mehaidli railed.
To add insult to injury, Mehaidli found out from an American colleague that Fastenal’s US employees received the usual box of goodies.
Somehow his manager found out about the account and he was dismissed from his job.
So, Mr. Mehaidli…it’s too late to get this job back, but maybe I can offer you some advice that may help keep you out of trouble like this in your next position. You may find this controversial, but advice you never asked for usually is.
The next time your boss gives you a gift, say thank you.
I don’t care if that gift is a bottle of barbecue sauce, a million dollars or a box of bandaids. You shake the hand of whoever gave it to you, wish them happy holidays and SAY THANK YOU. If the boss made a bajillion dollars last year and you’re minimum wage…SAY THANK YOU.
If you’re frustrated with your working conditions and are thinking of filing a formal complaint…SAY THANK YOU.
If you’re allergic to barbecue sauce…SAY THANK YOU.
If you don’t even celebrate any holidays…SAY THANK YOU.
What you don’t do is go on the internet and shred the people who pay you because you thought your Christmas bonus should have included more beef jerky. These are the people who provide the job that provides the money that pays your bills and presumably helps your family. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?”
It’s not just good manners, it’s good business. Even if you hate your job, even if your job is a horrible place to work, with horrible managers and horrible hours, you never want to leave any job in a way that would prevent you from coming back. You don’t burn those bridges. You never know when you may need a recommendation, some advice or a little help in general. A man with foresight understands that moving forward sometimes means reaching back. You don’t want to be reaching for ashes when you need that bridge the most.
More than that, it’s about being grateful. It’s not about what you think is owed to you above and beyond the wages you earn. Let me explain to you, that it is precisely nothing. Holiday bonuses are just that – bonuses. They’re extra. And you know what? They’re not mandatory. Your boss doesn’t have to give any kind of holiday gift. Is that crappy? Yeah, but it happens. The reason it happens is none of your business.
You don’t work in accounting and you don’t deposit the boss’s checks for him. You have no idea who has what kind of money, but even if your boss did make millions while you made thousands…so what? It is none of your business what anyone else makes or what they spend. I know that’s not fashionable to say among your age group but the sooner you understand this the easier your life is going to be.
Practice shunning envy. It takes some getting used to but once you master it you’ll be so much more at ease with the world around you.
Look, I get it. I’ve been on your end. I’ve been in a position of counting on a Christmas bonus that never materialized and it sucks. And maybe it is even a little unfair. The first time it happened to me, my mind immediately went to the boss and how wealthy I knew she was. I felt robbed. When I complained about it, someone wise told me what I’m telling you now – I was not owed anything beyond the wages I earned. It might feel crappy and it might be stingy, but it still isn’t any of my business what gifts my employer chooses to give or withhold.
What I didn’t do was complain publicly to anyone who would listen. Why would an employer have any incentive to keep a bitter person who publicly defames the people who sign his checks? Would you hold on to that person if you were the boss?
To my mind, it wasn’t very cool of your company to give you cheap sauce as a “bonus” so I understand your frustration, but I cannot condone your response. It was immature and uncalled for. If you’re frustrated, complain to your friends over a beer…not the internet. Your boss owes you nothing and the Christmas season isn’t about what gifts you get from people richer than you. If you think it is then you really don’t deserve to be participating in any gifting rituals.
You deserved to lose your job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from this experience. Exercise gratefulness. Start with what’s around you – your family, home, friends, pet anaconda…whatever. Did you eat today? Did you sleep? Do you have clothes to wear? A car to drive? Start with the little stuff and a funny thing will start to happen…you’ll start to feel happy. Grateful people are happy people and happy people are great employees.
It isn’t swallowing your pride to say “thank you” even when you may not really mean it. It’s just the right thing to do.