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Share how you helped someone (thankless jobs)

Lady Wolfshead

"Peace comes from within" - The Buddha
I was talking to my supervisor at work today and we ended up talking about "thankless jobs." He is a senior job steward with our union (a volunteer position) and mentioned how he was exhausted because he'd gotten a call from a co-worker late last night who was in crisis. He said it's often a thankless job but rewarding. I know what he meant. I was a job steward once too. Many of us do volunteer or personal work that never wins any medals or external recognition yet saves another person's health, mental health, career or sanity. Some of us do this on SF.

So I'm creating this thread to share positive stories of how we helped someone in a significant way that was unpaid (or above and beyond the call of one's job). Not just to brag but to remind ourselves that our contributions and how we treat others actually matters.

For instance, my supervisor's story reminded me of when I was a job steward. I was asked by a manager to sit in on a disciplinary meeting for a coworker in another department, a man I didn't know well but I'd had some dealings with him. A bunch of managers were there (5 or 6), and this one poor guy I'll call Y, a 15-year employee about 50 years old, getting his second official warning for his behavior (he'd also had "letters of expectation" and disciplinary letters). Third in-person warning would mean being fired. You could smell the metaphorical blood in the air as the managers detailed the steps they had taken in warning him. Really I was just there as a witness but I took the role very seriously and wrote everything down and asked questions and grilled the managers on their reasons for the discipline, because to me Y's behaviour, although socially distasteful, was not an intentional violation of any rules. But it was easy to see they were gathering evidence to fire him and had no compassion for his possible mental state.

They said Y had been inappropriate in his comments to a client, who then complained. Y had a habit of ranting at length about inconsequential things, and I myself had spoken to him on work business and found him to be socially inept (he was also known to be single and friendless, and the subject of mockery), and upon hearing the managers descriptions of Y's behavior, I began to suspect Y might have a mental disorder and that it was perhaps getting worse (or possibly becoming more apparent given the increased recording/monitoring in call centres). Even though my "job" was concluded after advising Y of his options, the situation niggled at me as I thought of Y getting fired.

I looked up a senior union representative as I didn't think that Y would, and voiced my concerns about his mental health. She arranged with Y's cooperation for him to have a psychiatric assessment, and helped him to go on medical leave. His disciplinary record at work was expunged as it related to a medical condition. After his short-term leave, he went on permanent disability. Permanent disability at my company means a comfortable income, continued pension contributions (made by the union) and full extended health and dental benefits. Of course if he'd been fired he would have got nothing except 2 weeks severance.

So did I do what any volunteer job steward would do? In an ideal world perhaps. But Y was not a very likable guy and could have fallen through the cracks. It seems to me that many people like him wind up getting fired and not receiving the help they need.


🦩 Now a flamingo, not a kiwi 🦩
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As someone who went through disciplinary actions I just wanted to commend you for going above and beyond on behalf of Y. Though my union steward wasn't very effective...when it came down to the inevitable outcome the Union President was truly in my corner on a day's notice and so I was able to "retire" so am forever grateful and one day hope that I can pay it forward for someone else in some capacity....
It wasn't in a union, and he wasn't able to save my job, but I had a supervisor who busted his ass to ensure I'd be able to secure unemployment benefits once I was let go. I suspect that he damaged his own future prospects at the company in the process as well. Anyhow, not me, but he certainly went above and beyond and got little out of it.
Okay, yeah, when I was in my 20s, when I was living in Santa Barbara, I was approached by a kid about 16 or 17. I thought he was gonna ask me to buy him some booze, and was preparing an excuse to say no. Turned out, he had come into town with some friends, done some mushrooms, and then lost track of his group and was scared as hell. This was early 2000s, where most but not everyone had a cellphone yet.

So I bought him a bottle of orange juice (because orange juice is like drinking liquid sunshine when you're on mushrooms), and drove him down to the pier to smoke cigarettes and peoplewatch for a couple hours (the pier being the most likely place for a bunch of high teenagers to just show up at). When they never showed up, I drove him the hour and a half home, and gave him a boost to climb in through his bedroom window so as to avoid his mom, then left and never saw each other again.


In the SF doghouse with Burt
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My boss (the owner of the small company I work for) is always helping me, not long after hiring me, which in itself was a risk for him seeing as I had almost no relevant experience and my interview was... weird at best, I got a LOT of complaints from clients, not only were my social skills rusty and crap to begin with, and I hadn't figured out a professional persona yet (how people act when they are representing a company) but another guy at work was using my name when visiting sites to avoid complaints coming in against him. My boss gave me endless chances and advice, and after that asshole using my name quit (and his act came to light not long after) I've got almost no complaints since, and many clients especially like me among the engineers. Even now, because I claim far fewer expenses than any of the others (I claim what I think is fair, they all claim what they can) my boss has insisted on paying for MOT and maintenance for my personal car for the last 2 years because I use it for commuting.
If I may be forgiven for using a Twitterism (and I swear I dont use twitter) I think it is appropriate to say #AwesomeBoss


As for me, I usually do small things, like giving up my lunch to put in extra time to squeeze in a walk-up or two (which I enter into the ticket system later) for clients in need, one thing I can say I did was something during my 2nd year of university. I was in a group of 4 people who arranged to live together for our 2nd year of university, but 1 of us failed her exams and had to drop out, so our landlord agreed to let us live there anyway and would find a 4th for us. Half way through the year we got a new housemate, a former student who was having a SERIOUSLY shit time. She had a "drunken accident" with a long-time friend and housemate, they were both drunk and they slept together, but when they woke up, HE accused HER of rape and somehow got their whole friend group on his side, they "evicted her" from the flat they shared, and wouldnt let her in again even to get her stuff, they avoided her and spread rumours about her, basically turned her life into a homeless hell, by the time she moved in with us, she had graduated with an "ordinary degree, no honours" (which means they let her graduate, but they didn't give her a grade as she didn't earn one) and was holding down 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet. She was friendless, had no money, no possessions, and no time to do anything but work and sleep, she didn't even have time or money to make food most days.

Our house naturally let her join our friend groups, and I did whatever I could to help despite her objections. I ran to shops when she was too ill to work (burn-out) to grab medicine, I picked up prescriptions, and though I hate cooking, and have never cooked for my own sake, I started cooking proper meals for myself every day and always "accidently" made way too much so she was forced to eat proper meals. She moved out after 6 months, but I did what I could whilst she was there.

I was kinda not sure about replying here, I dont get put in a position to help total strangers too much given my work, so most of the "big" things I have done was for those close to me, housemates, family, friends, etc, and this thread seems to be more about helping strangers.

Legate Lanius

Well-Known Member
I help my family not freak the fuck out for a couple of days by not killing yourself, and so are many reading this. Otherwise, I don't really help people at all; and they don't help me (they actually compete with me for jobs and girlfriends). Exception being this forum, ofc.


In the SF doghouse with Burt
SF Pro
SF Supporter
I help my family not freak the fuck out for a couple of days by not killing yourself, and so are many reading this. Otherwise, I don't really help people at all; and they don't help me (they actually compete with me for jobs and girlfriends). Exception being this forum, ofc.
I'm sure you help people more than you think, a lot of what people do even just to try to lower their burden on others is really them helping others, but they dont see it themselves. People help each other for all kinds of reasons, but usually, rejecting that help, or being difficult in those cases can hurt the one trying to help you, so even just letting them help you occasionally can be helping them. In my post above I talked about helping a woman going through a tough time, its been like 10 years and I still draw strength and validation from my efforts to help someone in need, just her letting me help her has helped me, if she had stubbornly refused to let me help her and made me just watch her suffer instead, that would have hurt me more than letting me help.

My point is, there are all kinds of ways that we help each other, and even when we seem like burdens to others, we can really be a point of strength or comfort for them. Just be a good person to those around you and you are already more help than you think.

You said you didn't kill yourself because of them. You are probably going through hell at the moment and you are still thinking of them, that makes you a good person, and good people are rare enough that just knowing one is a huge asset nowadays.

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