July 20, 2004

Gratitude is, what?

Gratitude is, according to Webster:

\Grat"i*tude\, n. [F. gratitude, LL. gratitudo, from gratus agreeable, grateful. See Grate, a.] The state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness.

Gratitude is hard. It leaves you feeling obligated to another. That person has rendered you a service or done you a favor. You are obliged to that person. You owe him or her something. It makes you feel, I don't know exactly, but sometimes, maybe, a little uneasy. Especially if you didn't ask that person to do something for you or on your behalf. You owe, at minimum, a thank you to that person.

Grand Central Station, in NYC, since September 11, 2001, has been guarded full time by members of the NY State National Guard. These civilian soldiers stand there, armed, and guard the terminal. They have been taken away from their lives and their families and they stand and walk and watch the terminal. Sometimes they look for suspicious people and sometimes, like me, I have to think that they are wondering whether that tall brunette walking through the terminal is not wearing any underwear at all or just a really thin thong. Nonetheless, it is clear that they protect us. It is clear that they do so at personal risk to themselves and at a cost to their families and employers.

I have been thinking about these part-time soldiers for awhile now. I feel gratitude towards them. I am grateful for their sacrifice in making me safe and, in the process, giving up their own lives for my benefit. Today, and not for the first time, I thanked two of them and expressed my gratitude.

I said to each of them, something along the lines of the following:

Excuse me. I just wanted to thank you for your service. Thank you for being away from your families and keeping me safe during my commute. I'm sure a lot of people think that when they see you, but I wanted to tell you. Thank you.

Gratitude is hard to express. It can make you feel goofy, standing there in the middle of Grand Central Station, thanking a total stranger. But it seemed worth it. Each of the soldiers I thanked seemed surprised and then happy.

It was the least I could do, I figured.

Posted by Random Penseur at July 20, 2004 09:44 AM

Nice touch, RP. I bet your thankyou made a world of difference for those two.

Posted by: Jim at July 20, 2004 11:16 AM

Thank you, Jim.

Posted by: RP at July 20, 2004 12:26 PM

Rp, a mencsch-like thing do do. Nice job.
By the way the good news is the tall brunette was not wearing underwear. The bad news is I had to ride all the way to Port Jervis before I had the opportunity to find out.

Posted by: stolypin at July 20, 2004 04:14 PM

I knew it all along! And Ivan, I gotta think that the ride was worth it.

Thank you for your nice comment, by the way.

Posted by: Random Penseur at July 20, 2004 09:34 PM

I don't know RP, Port Jervis is a helluva price to pay for the privilege.

Posted by: stolypin at July 21, 2004 10:26 AM

I've never actually been to Port Jervis but I suppose it depends on how Sharon Stone she was prepared to be, if you get my reference, and I bet you do.

Posted by: RP at July 21, 2004 12:08 PM
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