The Work

Actor Tommy Lee Jones concluded his relatively brief – 109 words – acceptance speech at the 1994 Academy Awards in an interesting way. Jones won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in The Fugitive (1993), which starred Harrison Ford.

Graciously, he appreciatively ticked off the names of just over a dozen people, including his family.

And then closed by saying, “Thanks for the work.”

Thanks for the work. Nice. Someone who appreciates the opportunity to work.

You don’t hear that too often, do you?

There’s no shortage of complaints and complaining about the work, that’s for sure. One colleague went so far as to complain about the work they hadn’t been asked to do. A complaint in advance of the work — the work they would not be performing.

After every purchase, one antiques dealer always thanks me “for the business.” Roughly analogous to “the work.”

Every season I hire a tree trimmer, John, to work on the forest of vertical vegetation populating my yard. He is reliable, prompt and reasonably priced. (In fact, no matter the cost, I’m not climbing any trees.)

This Fall, at my request, John came by to offer an estimate on more tree work. We walked through the yard and I pointed to this limb and that tree, each requiring his attention.

He offered suggestions, as well.

He gave me a quote on the spot. “Okay,” I said. And John promised to return in seven days to perform the work.

Exactly when he promised, a week later, all the trees and limbs were taken down, and everything had been hauled to the curb for pick-up by the village, or any passerby interested in unseasoned firewood.

John’s presence was barely noticeable. Except, of course, for the mountain of brush and cut wood stacked up at the curb and acting as an impenetrable barrier for the herds of deer that ordinarily traverse the still-to-be-civilized frontier, where I live.

I called him that evening to make sure I had the correct address to send his check.

And I apologized. “Sorry,” I said, “for such a small-sized job this season.”

“Not at all,” said John.

“Thanks for the work.”

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