When you work in a front-line administrative/customer-service oriented position, it's easy to feel under-appreciated now and again.
In my current position, I am often the first live person callers have been able to get through to after trying to navigate the labrynth of the school phone system or website. This means that as a rule, they're annoyed before I even have a chance to try to help them.
Heaven help me if they don't like what I have to say.
On the other hand, I've been told I should "go home every night to a husband who rubs my feet," (yes,please) that I'm "such an angel, you'll surely be present at the next birth of Jesus," (?) and other various and sundry sweet things from people grateful to have dealt with a friendly face or voice. These people make my day.
There is even the odd person who insists on buying me a coffee.
Then there's the guy who brought me a coat.
Apparently he owns a business purchasing overstocked items from companies and selling them in Africa or something, but I still felt pretty uncomfortable accepting such a substantial gift, especially as I barely did more than my job. He insisted, however, and as I couldn't think of a way to decline gracefully quickly enough, well, I added a ski jacket to my icy weather wardrobe.
I had hoped that would be the end of it, but recently this person popped by for some more information, and despite my protestations, promised to bring me a purse in return.
Sure enough, last week alongside the pens and sticky notes on my desk, was a new handbag.
Once again I was unable to dissuade this generosity, but I really don't feel like I can or should be accepting these gifts.
So what do you think? Is it ever all right to accept gifts at work, and if not, how do you decline without appearing ungrateful or offending the prospective giver?