A lesson from the crew of the You Yangs

A friend has stepped down from a voluntary post after eight years of service. So far there has been no thank you, no small speech of recognition on departure, no drinks to toast their contribution or a suggested farewell meal. There has been nothing, after eight years of volunteering. My friend is pretending not to mind but we all know this situation, and let’s be frank, it hurts.


And I have seen employees resign after long periods of feeling taken for granted, when the occasional, simple thank you or ‘your effort is appreciated’ would have made a difference.
I found an antidote to this poor form in a letter written by surviving crew of the good ship, You Yangs, shipwrecked off Kangaroo Island, South Australia in 1890.
The crews made it to shore in separate, smaller boats and one group found themselves in a cave. They were wet and freezing from Southern Ocean waters in winter, and they were hungry.
The cave was clearly the temporary shelter for another human being and this letter was left for the cave’s unknown tenant on June 16, 1980.
Dear Sir
Be you bushranger, wallaby catcher, or bandicoot snatcher, whatever you are, you’re a gentleman. Ye’ll be thinking when you come here again that thieves have been around. Not so. We are five shipwrecked sailors from You Yangs, wrecked off Cape Gantheaume, from Port Pirie to Sydney. We struck upon your palatial mansion and are very grateful to you for the flour and the dead possums. We have just stewed them, and with dough boys they went grand. We have been criticising your domicile. Fine situation, view from veranda beautiful, sanitation perfect and ventilation A1. We recommend you to have a back door as a means of exit if the tax gatherer or the influenza should come along. Sorry we have not better remuneration to offer you but hope the Lord will repay you.’
I was thinking about my friend’s situation when I found this story and thought that the bedraggled crew of the You Yangs might have something to teach his colleagues.
No matter what the circumstances, you can always say thank you.
And the crew were also repaid. As they left the cave, they encountered the returning trapper, who helped them make their way back to the mainland.
They all survived.

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