Last Saturday I finally got around to distributing my thank you cards to the tenants. It was easy because I had to do the mail on Saturday, we are a “drop house,” which means the mailman (or woman) drops off boxes of mail and we have to sort and deliver the mail to the tenants outside of their door. We have this big handmade mailbox with pigeonholes that we use to carry the mail up to the floors in. It sits in the lobby as the mail is sorted and until someone (me on Saturdays) can take it up to deliver it.
There is one tenant who will obsessively come down and check his box every ten minutes until the mail got delivered, but that’s a story for another blogpost.
It was much easier years ago when I was the day doorman, I would bring in the cards and put them in the appropriate boxes and deliver them myself. Then when I became the handyman it was a little trickier, I didn’t really want to ask the doorman to do it for me, I actually didn’t want any of the other staff to know I was doing it.
I know I shouldn’t care what they think, I have a friend Ed, whom everybody refers to as “Buddha Ed” that says “what other people think of me is none of my business,” but like all other good maxims, it’s easier said than done.
Not Buddha Ed.
So that and the scarcity of pre-printed thank you cards forced a two year hiatus on my thank you cards, but this year I was determined to do it.
When I first started giving thank you cards, about 13 years ago I could buy a box of 25 cards and envelopes for about $18. Then, 5 years ago or so, you could only get boxes of 12 cards for $15. We have a 64-unit building, but on average less than 58 of the units give Christmas tips. That meant I had to buy five boxes of 12, $75 worth, to make the cut. It was getting expensive.
The 12 card box.
I always got these cards at Paper Presentation on 18th Street. I love Paper Presentation, one of the last real “Stationary stores” left in the city. Nobody uses paper anymore. I hope they don’t go out of business; I’d hate to have to go to Barnes And Noble for stationary. Come to think of it they are being put out of business too, by the digital world.
My solution to the problem of rising thank you costs was to buy blank cards, and then I bought a “Thank You” stamp and I made my own. A little more time consuming, but it works for me. This is what I did the year before I became the handyman and I did it this year too.
I added a snowflake this year, make it a little nicer.
Then, I used my brand new Mont Blanc fountain pen to write my thank you notes.
People who gave me less than $50 I just wrote “Thank you for your kind gift this holiday season.” $70 and above got: “Thank you for your kind and generous gift…” $100 and above I wrote “kind and very generous gift…”
Once, about 5 years ago, I was doing work for one of the tenants in her apartment right after Christmas. I was sitting on her couch assembling something or other for her new baby and we were chatting.
“It was really nice of you to do that thank you card.” She said.
“No problem, I like to let people know I’m grateful.”
“You know, I gave the super $600 and he didn’t say thanks. He didn’t say shit to me.” Wow, that was harsh, I thought. I didn’t know how to respond.
“Well, I can only speak for myself, I don’t know what’s in his head,” was all I could think of to say.
After people got the cards the other day, people started thanking me for the cards. Thank you for the thank you, and I always feel great when people tell me how thoughtful it was, etc.
One of the tenants, a new single woman who moved in about 3 months ago said, “you know, you’re the only one who said thanks, and I really appreciate it.”
Some people, though, DIDN’T SAY SHIT TO ME! No thanks for the thanks.
I remember one guy who left the building years ago chortling over how a tenant stared him down waiting for him to say thank you.
“Yeah, he was looking at me, waiting for me to say thanks, and I stood there and stared back at him and didn’t say shit.” I can never understand how people can get satisfaction from doing something like that, but it taught me one thing, not to expect anything from other people. I say thanks because it is the right thing to do, and whether they thank me back or not is none of my business. Doesn’t stop me from feeling awkward, though.