Tuesday, June 21, 2011

gift etiquette

Sometimes in the course of fieldwork someone else does a big favor for you - whether it's a local resident who returns an expensive gizmo that you left behind, or a guy at the facility you're working at who spends his lunch hour wielding a forklift to help you load all your supplies.

When I was working in big field programs run by my (male) coworkers, the default was to buy the favor-giver a case of beer in appreciation.

When I was running my own field programs later on, it felt... weird to buy a random guy beer. Also, I'm fundamentally a rule-follower and buying booze in the course of an environmental investigation set off internal alarms.

I settled on a compromise - buy them lunch! But it was still sort of awkward, especially if I was working in an area where nobody had ever seen a woman in steel-toe boots. I wanted to thank them, not imply anything else.

Have any of my field-type readers run into this? Do you buy beer (or other things) to return favors, or is this a cultural oddity specific to my area?


Silver Fox said...

I had a male coworker who liked to bring the drillers beer after they got off shift (12 hour days) - but have never wanted to do that. In fact, it used to be more routine for drillers to throw a thank you party at the local bar at the end of a program than it was for us to buy them anything - but things have changed, and none of that seems like a good idea anymore.

Other than that, I haven't heard much about buying things to return favors, other than paying for group meals, perhaps.

C W Magee said...

When I was in the field we invited people to dinner (in our camp on site, at a restaurant with the crew in town).

These days I just bake cookies.

Anonymous said...

Cookies sound good.

Silver Fox said...

That was me last night, trying to say that cookies sound good, but Blogger wouldn't log me in.