On saying “thank you”
The day to day pleasantries, I’m sure we go through the motions on a regular basis, please, thank you, it’s pretty engrained into most of us. At least I would hope, broad statements like that always have exceptions, but more often than not I would like to believe that the majority of people are decent enough to say thank you to someone who is doing something for them, even if it’s just their job. Sometimes simply saying thank you can have a huge impact to a person, even if you don’t expect it to.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about today. With summer here there isn’t a lot of school stuff to fill my blog with and there’s only so much of my horrible mental health I can share before I feel like I’m just whining. Then I received a package and it inspired todays topic. The funny part about it is I wasn’t expecting what I got. That isn’t to say the package itself wasn’t expected, just that I was reminded that there are people attached to everything we do in this life. Like any good story we should start at the beginning.
I was taught the value of good manners at an early age. It unfortunately wasn’t by example. I was treated like garbage by my family and most of the time they weren’t kind to others either. The exception to the rule was my grandmother, who was horribly abusive in private, but would give everything she could to the church. She was a special kind of evil. Anyway the point being I learned how to treat people by living through how not to treat people.
There are two times where my courtesy was rewarded unexpectedly. The first was as a child at what amounted to a daycare called the boys and girls club (no offence to them, it was a good experience mostly). We were being handed out some toys, in this case baseball cards I believe. The line stretched out the door and around the building and each kid was handed a few and we moved on to the next station to get another toy. Frankly none of this memory stands out in my mind so I’m probably only remembering half the story. The only reason I remember at all is because of what happened next. When I was handed the cards I said thank you, apparently I was the first person in that long line to do so. Because of that the lady took a rather large handful (really a comical amount) and gave them to me. Suddenly everyone was saying thank you. It’s a dumb story maybe, but sometimes the most unexpected things happen when you’re polite to people.
I’m sure there are other cases in my life where simply saying thank you made someone feel good, but that really stood out to me, especially as a kid. It wasn’t that I wanted the cards, or even that I was into baseball that makes it memorable. It was just that someone had been so grateful that I said thank you that they went out of there way to do something especially nice for me. In the digital day and age, we don’t get a whole lot of face to face interaction and this has been amplified thanks to COVID. It’s easy to forget that behind every twitter account (okay not all of them, a good chunk are bots), behind every blog, behind every email, every small online store, and even customer service, there are people. People like you and me. People trying to make a living in a cruel and sometimes cold world that only sees a persons worth in what they can or sometime cannot produce.
I try to make an effort not to forget that. So when I wanted to order some new masks about a week ago (before the CDC announcement, but that wouldn’t have changed anything for me), I went to Esty and placed my order. In the customer notes I added a simple thank you. Literally just two words and embarrassingly I do that any time I order from Etsy because these stores are run by people and it just feels like the polite thing to do even though I never actually see the person.
Nothing had ever come of it and I never really expected anything. Especially since saying thank you or hearing someone say thank you can sometimes feel like a person is reading from a script and not meaning it sincerely. I like to believe that when I say it I mean it and it’s not an automatic response to something, but if I’m honest sometimes it really is just an automatic response in a conversation. Writing thank you into the customer notes is a little more deliberate than saying it, but even then it probably feels hollow to most people and I don’t blame them. Frankly, I do it to be polite, not because I’m expecting anything in return. I hope it means something to the person, but even if it doesn’t it’s still worth the effort.
Which brings me to today. I received my package and noticed that I had an extra mask. Ordering from Esty is tricky sometimes because it’s usually a single person trying to run a small online business. First, I had to double check my order to make sure I had not mistakenly ordered three. When I saw I only ordered two, I then thought maybe the person had made a mistake and sent me an extra one. Luckily not too long after wondering what happened, I also found a handwritten card that cleared things up for me.
For those who can’t read it, it says:
Alexander, Thank you so much for your purchase! And your kindness. It’s amazing how a simple “thank you” (in your note to seller) can make someone’s day a little brighter. And in this case, you helped brighten mine! I’ve included an extra mask just as a simple thank you, and because this world needs more kindness! Be well! Lauren
I agree with Lauren, the world does need more kindness. I don’t know her and she has no clue who I am, but we each made the others day just by being nice. I’m always shocked by the kindness of others because so often cruelty seems to be the default. Obviously these unexpected interactions are something I don’t easily forget and chances are I’ll remember this for the rest of my life. It’s so strange how two simple words can make even a mundane interaction unforgettable.
And to my readers, thank you, truly.