Sometimes, doing one's job well leads to a great feeling of pride. At other times, a workplace accomplishment only calls attention to how hollow that work you are doing truly is.
Just minutes ago, I noticed that the water cooler was empty, so I grabbed a replacement bottle. And not one of the wussy three-gallon bottles either. I went for the five-gallon monster. Go big or go home is my philosophy.
I stashed the empty bottle and heaved a new one onto the break room table. The lid came off with surprising ease. I lifted the bottle again, and deftly pitched it onto the water cooler base, and did not spill a single drop.
Normally, water splashes the wall, or sloshes onto the base. At the very least, a few stray drops hit the carpet. But this exchange was perfect. I looked around excitedly for someone who had witnessed this historic moment, but everyone was eating, or working, or at least pretending. I couldn't believe no one had seen it at all, especially since that meant it was extremely unlikely anyone had taped it.
I returned to my desk, flush with pride, only barely restraining myself from a self-high-five. And ten seconds later, the sadness of my pride sunk in. I had refilled a water cooler smoothly, and it was my proudest work accomplishment of the month. No one noticed how well I'd done it, and no one would have cared even if they had. And as I sat at my desk contemplating the state of my life, an attorney spilled water on the side of the cooler while attempting to fill the electric tea kettle, destroying all evidence of my feat.
There was one final spill: one tiny tear, from the corner of my right eye.