My friend Pat never had much use for the affirmations culture of participation trophies and what not.
In fact, he enjoyed mocking it. When someone in his family stumbled awkwardly or dropped a bowl of cereal on the kitchen floor, he would say "Good job, Jason!"
And when Pat did something clumsy, they would be quick to return the favor.
He's not a mean guy. He just thinks praise should be earned.
Anyway, I thought of Pat this morning as I headed out on my bike to an early haircut appointment on the North Side. Before I had gotten three blocks I encountered a young couple with a stroller and a dog. The woman smiled at me.
"Good job!" she said.
I assumed she was was referring to the fact a guy my age had managed to roll a bicycle out of the garage and travel a short distance over flat streets.
I felt the urge to say, "Young woman, I'll have you know that ..."
But I didn't. She was just being nice. So I said "Thanks."
On my way home, I was heading east on 37th. Not far past the new Jefferson Elementary, I saw a gray haired man jogging on the sidewalk. He was also going east. He was moving slow and his stride seemed labored.
A small wave of admiration washed over me as I got close to him.
"Good job!" I said, shouting because he had earphones on.
He looked over and made an expression that seemed more grimace than smile.