Do a Thing Right

There is a leak in my office ceiling. Occasionally, a water stain will spread across the tile in circles, eventually bubbling downward so the dark spot goes from annoying to ominous, dripping gently, persistently, until the tile crashes heavily, giving up, all over the desks and carpet beneath it. Usually, my office mates and I will discover this on a Monday morning: the water only dripping when no one is looking.

For the third time in as many months, there are men here to fix it. They drag plastic all over the furniture and carpet, they stand on ladders and point, tapping and taping and ratcheting – proclaiming it fixed until the next time the spots appear, probably when next it rains. Presumably (I’m not entirely clear on this, we lease this space and the building manager is the epitome of shady) these men are plumbers. Experts who understand things like drip lines and pipe sealant. Experts who also hopefully understand that draping plastic over other people’s workspaces and arguing about who will fetch lunch in a setting where people are often in pain and uncomfortable is intrusive, so care should be taken to perform the job well, so that in three or four weeks’ time, they aren’t back, tearing apart rooms that are supposed be safe havens.

Do a thing right. Most of us know when we’ve done a task correctly and when we’ve cut corners. A child might ‘clean’ their room by shoving everything into the closet or under a bed, versus going through each drawer and shelf putting the game pieces back in their boxes, and properly disposing of the water bottle full of mysterious liquid. Adults have their own versions of quick-fixes. There is though, a feeling associated with completion that usually doesn’t happen unless we do a thing

right. Internal gratification, a building of self-worth, a satisfied mental gold star – all varieties of proof that we are capable, that we’re responsible, that we took the time to do a thing right.

Sure, some things are ambiguous. But most tasks, you know what done looks like, and what the short cut is. Isn’t it worth a little extra effort for that boost in self-worth? Isn’t it worth doing the thing right just because?

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