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Let’s Be Thankful

John Doherty —  November 24, 2011
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Today is Thanksgiving. I’m currently on vacation for a few days in Colorado, but I took some time a few days ago to really think about what I am thankful for. While riding on the plane to Colorado, forced to be off the Internet (unless I wanted to pay $15 and let’s be honest, that’s insane for 3 hours of access), I had a moment or two of clarity.

What am I thankful for? I am thankful for so much. I am thankful to have a warm place to live. I am thankful to have a job that I love, in a city that I am crazy about (New York City), with coworkers that I genuinely enjoy and can be myself around, wonderful friends spread around the world both from the SEO industry and my travels, and so much to look foward to in the future.

Let me tell you a story

I have come realize that it is incredibly rare that you find something you love to do, with people you loe to do it with, and you get paid to do it. I was riding to the airport the other day, to go to Maryland for a day to talk with a potential client. I was tired and maybe a bit cranky too.

My driver was this Colombian man whose name I never got. We started talking, as I am prone to do with people. He asked where I was going, what I was doing. I told him, then asked him how early he had started driving people around that day (this was about 8:30am). He said “Oh you know, about 6:30. And I have people to drive after this, but at some point I have to go pick up my daughter from high school. It’s her first year and she doesnt’t know that neighborhood, so I go pick her up. She’s very special to me, you see. She’s my oldest.”

I smiled and said “Oh that’s nice of you.”

“Yes,” he said, ” but I let her down the other day. I was 45 minutes late picking her up and she was angry at me. But I told her ‘Bonita, I have to work very hard and I needed that money. It is hard for me to take time to come get you, but I must.’”

At this point, he told me how he had been laid off from his second job as a dishwasher at a restaurant (remember, this man is probably in his late 40s) and now he has to drive people around seven days a week. “I never see my family. I have to work all the time. Times are tough, you know. I work hard and try to save some money, about $200 a month, but it seems like every time I do, then a big bill comes up and it is gone.”

He then told me about the farm he owns in Colombia, and how his extended family lives there and works, but they constantly ask him for money. He can’t trust them and thinks they are stealing from him. He would fly down to close up the farm and kick them off, but he cannot afford to. He spent his life savings to come to the States about 20 years ago, illegally.


This man, whatever his name is, made me realize a lot in such a short ride. I realized just how blessed I am, and probably how blessed all of you who are reading this are. We have jobs, we have families. This man is blessed too ith a family, but I almost felt selfish for how fortunate I have been to find a job in an industry that I love.

This Thanksgiving, I ask you to really think about what you are thankful for. Also, realize that others are not as fortunate as many of us are. Do what you can to give back. Have a spare coat in your apartment? Give it to the homeless. I’m going to do this on Monday when I get back to New York. Kow someone who can’t take care of their house because of illness or age? Help them out.

Be thankful, and allow others to be thankful for you.

I’d love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments.

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

4 responses to Let’s Be Thankful

  1. Good to read this kind of thing. Because I think people tend to not understand that we are lucky, very lucky compare with other people. Someone can say: “yes, of course, but I have a lot of problems too”. I don’t mean life is easy, but if you think more of what you have and what other people don’t, then you realize how lucky you are and you are able to face things in a positive way!
    I think I started to realize this when one of my bestfriends and ex-girlfriend died when she was 18 years old because of a cancer (I was 18 as well)
    So basically I say: even when things get difficult, at least I can live them, share them, be angry at them, be happy in them, breathe them.

    So yeah, I am thankful to live. neat and simple. that’s it.

  2. In the end I think it’s important that we are thankful yes, but that more than that we are actually doing something with the gifts we have. Sometimes those gifts are monetary, other times it’s the ability to teach someone who to build a website, or use social media to help grow their small business.

    You don’t have to give someone money to change their life, and I think that’s where the driver you talked to was getting hung up. Giving people money often just enables them to continue bad habits, we’ve all heard the teach a man to fish analogy…

    Thanks for sharing John.

  3. Hi John,

    Great read. It’s easy to forget how fortunate we are.
    Yesterday, I had to take some pictures of my boss giving a donation to a local charity organisation. On the way I complained about not getting paid enough, because I don’t have the newest and most fancy photography gear. When we got there, the spokesperson from the charity told me the money would be used to by x-mas food and presents for children in families that have less than 50$ per person for food each month.
    That kinda put my shallow gear cravings into perspective.

    So I’m thankful for how fortunate I am!

    -Bo

  4. John,
    Thanks for writing on something what took me back few years and yes I felt very emotional after a long time. Let me tell you a story of a young man (me) came to a country for studies (Australia) $ 2000 in pocket with a dream to conquer the world. I was young, married and had a 4 years old daughter. It did not take long to face the reality which stutters my dream into pieces. With a burden of almost $25,000 per year of tuition frre and high living cost on top, without a job that was a nightmare to live in. I used to walk down the highway 10 KM three times a week to go to work got paid $800 a forth night. Drove taxi got robbed and assaulted went back to the drive taxi again next day as there were no other options. I have worked on taxis with broken left leg and got abused by people for not helping them with their luggage.
    But I never lost hope; I was always thankful, I thanked my god, thanked my family and thanked me every day. We happily shred rice-lentil-eggs day after day for lunch and dinner.
    Now I have finished my study, working with Australia’s one of the biggest media agency as a SEO Consultant. So I am thankful to every living soul and I want to be like this forever.

    - Ferdous Haider