In elementary school, one of our teachers gave us one of those half-hearted assignments that they occasionally would give and then completely forget about, leaving you -- as a kid with little time to waste between piano lessons and Girl Scouts -- to feel a bit peeved if you actually did them. This one teacher told us that she wanted us to, for 30 days in a row, keep two lists. One was a list of nice things you did for someone -- one a day -- including giving a simple compliment like "Hey, I like your clogs." (That's my example to infuse this tale with '80s spirit). The other list was a list of things we were thankful for, also one thing each day.

After I started keeping my lists for a few days, I realized that our teacher had dropped the subject and was never going to ask for them. I knew no one was going to bother to do them. But I decided to see if I could keep the lists anyway.

Now, since I was shy, I wasn't exactly going to go up to random kids at school and compliment their parachute pants. However, I did put things on my list of good deeds like helping my mom empty the dishwasher (unsolicited!) or helping my brother with his homework.

The things-to-be-thankful for list was more personally rewarding, because there are so many things we easily forget. I don't remember anything from my old list. But the reason I thought of all of this today was that at work, I edited a story about a guy who was doing construction at some condos in a neighboring town, and he fell off a beam and died. It was only 15 feet up, which is about a story and a half high, but I guess it was the way he fell, or what he fell onto.

If you are reading this at work, it is highly unlikely that you work at a dangerous job. Some of us have never even had to consider working at a job like that in order to make money. I know I should be thankful every day for all the things I have, but it's easy to forget. So among so many other things, I'm thankful that right now, I haven't had ever to work at a dangerous job for the money. Something to feel lucky about.

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