The Contentment Chronicles, cont.

The other day, I asked this question:

Have you ever had a moment on the job that made you supremely happy? We’re talking spring-in-your-step/song-in-your heart-type happy. If so, can you describe it?

This was the first answer that came in, and below are some others that followed.

“Contentment? Maybe this is not quite as euphoric as you are looking for, but it was a very defined, happy moment near the beginning of my career, almost 20 years ago, during my first jury trial as a prosecutor in Manhattan.

It was an assault misdemeanor, where the defendant had pushed the (much smaller) victim into the street and caused him to get hit by a car (it was only a misdemeanor because the victim was miraculously only slightly injured); the defendant was claiming self defense. I was terribly nervous, because it was not only my first trial, but the defendant chose to testify and thus I would also be doing my first cross-examination.

I decided to use the cross-examination to try to blunt the suggestion that the defendant, who was a body-builder, could possibly have felt threatened by the victim. Something pretty close to the following ensued: <<Mr. D, you are a lot bigger than the victim, aren’t you? Yes; And you are a personal trainer by profession, aren’t you? Yes; So you go to the gym every day, more or less, don’t you? Yes; Mr. D, you think you are pretty strong, don’t you? (dramatic pause; head tilts down; menacing glare from the witness box) STRONGER THAN YOU!>>

It is not often that you get the case handed to you so easily in a way that you could not have written better had you scripted it yourself. The rest of the trial felt like a breeze and I felt like I belonged right there in it, thanks to that unwitting gift from a guy whose aggressive streak compelled him to throw his own trial just as surely as it had caused him to assault the victim! The jury was out for a matter of minutes before they convicted.”

—Vincent Rivellese, Senior Appellate Counsel at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office

“One day I had two separate clients on opposite ends of the country tell me that I was their writer for life, and then both of them backed it up by raising my pay and hiring me for new projects that same afternoon. That was a happy day. And I still like both of those guys.”

—Rebecca Kerr, Freelance Writer

“A time when I was jump-in-my-cubical happy was when my director came to me to tell me how hard he knew I worked on a project and how pleased he was with how it all worked out in the end. Then he said two simple words, ‘Thank You.’ At that point I was over the moon and felt a strong surge of loyalty to my director and the company. I loved that job. Sadly, a few years later the parent company absorbed our company and let most of us go.”

—Jen Boyer, Independent PR Professional

“Every year, I step out of my ‘real job’ and help supervise the annual St. Patrick Hospital Heart Expo. A group of hospital staff volunteer to work on a Saturday morning. We turn the main lobby and conference center of the hospital into lecture halls and information booths on every conceivable aspect of heart disease, recruit 20 phlebotomists to draw blood for a Low Cost Blood Draw, and register and draw blood from about 1,000 people, managing the crowd by snaking the line through the cafeteria. I get thanked so many times throughout the morningfrom the public, from the volunteers, from our staffthat I’m in a fantastic mood for the next week.”

—Gayle Walton, Accounting Manager

“I walked into the tiny art supply store and rambled up to the counter. “May I help you?” A pleasant young clerk was sorting greeting cards, poised at the register. “Yes… your blank card stock. I bought one here yesterday with an envelope..” “..and you found two had stuck together!” The store owner had piped from her spot. I smiled. “Yes – and I’m here to pay for it. 65 cents, I think.” I handed over the change and turned to go. “You’re the most honest customer I’ve ever seen,” said the shopkeeper. “Thanks!” It’s easier to push the door open and stroll back to work after such accolades, and for the first time in years I worked with a smile.”

—Michael T. Heath, Parking Enforcement Officer

  1. […] Click here for more ‘Contentment Chronicles,’ and to add a memory of your own to the collection, please send me an email at  […]

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