I went to a Catholic High School that had a dress code, and uniforms. A lot of the time, I wasn't even in class, and so I rarely wore that uniform. My high involvement in extra-curricular activities put me outside of the classroom for a good percentage of the time, and the general awareness of my activities by the faculty meant that I was rarely bothered about not being in uniform. It was generally assumed that I had a good reason, or so I imagine this was the case. I was nearly never questioned about it, but then I didn't, after all, take advantage of this trust.
Anyway, in the eleventh grade, the same unpopular peer of mine that I referred to in Reasons often complained to me about how he should have been granted special privileges, such as not wearing the complete uniform all the time, or being late, or generally being an insolent teenager. His argument was that he had earned it: all of his hard work in the extra-curriculars (we had rallied to bring one that had been canceled back into existence), and his high grades from class warranted his exemption from the rules. (I can't help but wonder if there's any way of bypassing this juvenile attitude, or if we're all condemned to adopt it until we grow out of it.)
It's hard to know what will garner thanks and praise, and even what sort of appreciation is appropriate. One thing that is for certain is that it cannot be the goal. Recognition is just a bonus.
At work, I try to provide good customer service, meet my goals, complete my tasks on a daily basis, but it is always a pleasant surprise when a colleague gives me something to show appreciation. My co-worker gave me a gift the other day - a bottle of red wine. A gift was the last thing I expected. After the last couple weeks I've had, it made me really happy to know that at least one person genuinely appreciated my effort and cared enough to show me.