Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Random Rant - Please Remember To Use Manners. Thank You.

Growing up, saying please and thank you was mandatory. If we didn't say please, we didn't get it. If we didn't follow through with a thank you, we weren't able to eat it, play with it, spend it, etc. Manners were not optional. Our vocabulary didn't include "I want" or "give me" or "buy me this." We didn't dare mutter those words. By some slim chance we did, two things immediately followed. The look. ass whuppin'.

On occasions when we received gifts, the reigns tightened. Upon receiving a gift, we had to say thank you accompanied with a hug...or kiss on the cheek. If the gift was sent via mail, we'd have to pick up the phone, attached to the kitchen wall (there were no cell phones back then) and call the sender.

That's not all...

Before we could fully enjoy the gift in all of its splendor, we had to compose a thank you note. Our best handwriting. It didn't matter if the gift was a box of underwear and socks. Or if we hated it. Or if the sweater was the ugliest piece of clothing we'd ever laid our eyes on. Or if it was a birthday card with $2 inside.

Thank you note. Thank you note. Thank you note.

Mom always had a drawer in the kitchen stocked with cards for every occasion. We'd select a thank you card, sit at the table and write out a sincere paragraph. We weren't allowed to just sign the card. Writing "thank you for the gift" and signing our name was not acceptable either.

Once we wrote our paragraph of gratitude, Mom had to inspect it. If it wasn't to her liking, she would rip it up and toss it in the trash. To avoid wasting another thank you card, our second attempt had to be drafted on a piece of lined paper. Once it met her approval, our message was rewritten on the card. We were then allowed to seal, address, stamp, and put it on the mantel where all the outgoing mail resided.

At that point, the proverbial gate was lifted. The gift was ours to use, eat, spend, listen to, hang in the back of our closet...whatever. 

I can remember, as a teenager, having to sit at the table writing multiple thank you cards and thinking, "This sucks. I can't wait until I'm an adult so I don't have to do this shit anymore." Do you have idea the torture involved in having to spend an afternoon writing thank you notes when the new Janet Jackson or Madonna cassette tape was sitting on the table? Unwrapped. Un-listened to.

Eventually, as I grew older, my thought process matured. I became an adult. And guess what? I continued to say please and thank you.

"Lisa, would you like a glass of wine?"

"Yes, please. That would be fah-bue-lessssss."

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

"Here ya go, sweetie."

"Thank you."

In addition, when I receive a gift, I immediately express my gratitude. The following day, I write and send a thank you note. I have a box of thank you notes stashed in my desk drawer. On occasion, I'll express my gratitude through email or a personal message.

See how easy that is?

For the life of me, I can't understand why a good chunk of the population, both young and old, have no manners or lack the ability to extend a wee bit of gratitude. It's not rocket science.

For example, last year, we sent a gift to a friend who lives out of state. The box included a couple of small, unique items we had purchased at a country store and homemade baked goods I had whipped up. We shipped priority. The receipt included a tracking number and expected date of delivery.

Two days later, the gift was successfully delivered. Exhale. While USPS has been exceptionally reliable, there's always those once-in-a-blue-moon fiascoes. I was relieved our gift had made it from point A to point B without any issues. I went about my day. My life.

A few days later, Lisa asked if I had heard from the recipient. Nope. In fact, I had forgotten all about it. Until right then and there. Did she receive the gift? I knew it had been delivered, but it's not unheard of for people to steal packages from porches or other designated areas.

Now, I was irritated. 

At that point, it becomes awkward. If I send an email asking if she received the gift, will she think I'm fishing for a thank you? If I don't send an email, I'll never know. Did she get it? Had it been stolen? After about 6 hours of mental deliberation, I sent an email. Several hours later, I got a reply.

"Yes, I received your package the other day. I meant to send you a text, but I got sidetracked and forgot. Thank you so much. I've already eaten the cookies and there are only 2 chocolate covered pretzels left."

Wow. Okay. It takes about 3 minutes to eat a cookie and about 15 seconds to send a text. Get where I'm going with this?

Maybe some of you are reading this and wondering what the big deal is. Please. Thank you. Seems rather petty when you're looking at the big picture, right? But, I'm not referring to the big picture.

If I were, the grim reality...? Manners are going out of style. Fizzling out. They're getting diluted with the younger generation's (not all) contemporary mind frame of being entitled to nearly everything. 

When all is said and done, it boils down to 2 things. Respect. Gratitude. When someone gives you a gift, there's always a level of time and expense involved. Time is something they'll never get back. Expense translates to money. In most cases, the money spent, whether it's $5 or $200, is money they've worked hard for. They don't have to spend it on you, but they do.

As the recipient, have respect for the above mentioned. Time. Expense. Everything between. Say thank you...and mean it. Follow up with a note or email. Don't be deterred by the critics who say using technology to extend gratitude is impersonal. It's not. I've received some of the most heartfelt thank yous via email.

Lisa and I are fortunate. The people in our tiny tribe are genuinely grateful for any and all. They're old-school. Likes us. They appreciate the time and effort that goes into a loaf of homemade bread or an evening of food and drinks.

"Want another piece of pizza?"

"Yes, please!"

A day or so later...

"Thank you for a wonderful evening...."

It's that simple. Bottom line, manners. Use 'em. Don't be an asshole.

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