March 28, 2012 – I was thinking about this as I came into my office this morning. Do we say “Thank you” enough, and to the right people? Do we reserve our thanks for the obvious recipients and disregard the less than obvious ones? And do we just throw a “Thank you” out there as a social obligation, or do we really stop and think about it, and mean it?
I rode my scooter in to work today and parked in my secret spot, under the smiling face of the parking lot attendant who lets me park there, and who is within 20 feet of my scooter all day long. I appreciate that I am allowed to park for free, and I appreciate that my scooter is always within visual range of one of two attendants who know who it belongs to. So I parked, wished the morning attendant a good day, and headed off down the block. When I got in, I did a quick change and popped back out to the Starbuck’s that lies halfway in between and bought two gift cards – one for the morning attendant and one for the afternoon attendant.
Call it a bribe if you like, certainly it will go a long way to ensure that I am allowed to continue to park where I do, but at the same time I truly really do appreciate the concession since in no way do they have to let me put my scooter where I do. The two men are generous and very friendly towards me on my little scoot. I choose to cultivate that rather than assume some entitlement. Both men were quite surprised and the morning attendant tried to refuse it, but I insisted and he accepted with a huge smile.
And I think that is a real problem in society. We forget that many people do things that they don’t have to do, and sometimes we forget to show an appropriate level of appreciation. In many corners of the world Canadians are considered very polite and extremely “nice”. But are we really? And sometimes that perception coupled with what I think is the reality makes me think “Wow, if that’s true, what does it say about the rest of the world?” Maybe we are nice in some ways. But I know that many of us aren’t in other aspects. I used to work in the service industry, and I can tell you that Canadians are a darned cheap lot. An acceptable base tip in most parts of the world is 20%, yet here too many people seem to think 10% is acceptable. No, for the most part that’s a cheap insult, it’s not being nice to the person who is serving you, be he or she cutting your hair, serving your drink, or taking your food order. We used to hang out at a pub/restaurant and were comped a lot of drinks and sometimes food items. When the bill came and we’d see the comp, we’d usually throw the value of the item in as a tip, on top of whatever tip we were giving. Sometimes the bill would end up at $15 and we’d give a $20 tip. It’s a way to show appreciation and say “Thank You”!
Do you say thank you to the bus driver who waits for you? What about the person who lets you go first at a four way stop, or who lets you squeeze into a line of traffic waiting for a light to turn. Do you thank the person who bags your groceries? Or do you ignore them and feel that because it is their job that they don’t deserve the simple courtesy of a thank you?
Do you thank the people who challenge your ideas? Or do you just get mad? I have been putting a lot of effort into helping out with some workshops lately. I don’t have to do it, and I even gave up a few Saturdays to do it. I do get paid, but that’s not why I’ve been doing it. Rather I’ve wanted to ensure that the messaging with respect to the important bits that the facilitator isn’t knowledgeable in, are covered and people’s questions are answered. Saturday and today I was openly challenged, aggressively, in front of a room full of people. It was a great opportunity to educate and I was thankful that the challenges were laid. At then end of both workshops, the individual in question came up to me and both apologised and thanked me for information that addressed their concerns. And I, in turn, thanked them for asking what others were probably thinking, and for thinking about the issues in the first place. Mutual respect based on such simple words and actions.
But don’t forget your friends either. Who hasn’t gone out for lunch with a friend and had them pick up the tab. And of course you said “Thank You”, but did you make an effort to remember and pick up the next one? It often seems that the people closest to us are the ones we fail to thank. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being my husband. Thank you for taking out the trash, thank you for making dinner, thank you for doing the laundry, thank you for feeding the pets, thank you for making the bed, thank you for holding the door open for me, thank you for checking the air in my tires when I forget to think about it, thank you for making sure I remember to take my phone to work, thank you for cleaning the litter box every morning, thank you for remembering which wine glass is mine (even though I maintain that mine is always the fuller one), thank you for being there.
And thank you everyone in Flicker and Facebook lands for commenting on my photos and my ramblings. I appreciate it very much.