The importance of saying “Thank You”

The following may not be entirely accurate but to my minds eye, it’s pretty dang close.

I once dated this guy in high school who was incredibly kind, lets call him Bob. Bob worked in an ice cream shop in a busy part of my hometown and he really took to heart some of the key elements of customer service - patience, kindness and gratitude. I, on the other hand, am very impatient, often distracted, and am not one to be thoughtful about the words that flow out of my mouth.

There was one day back when we dated that sticks to my brain like gum and has stuck with me to this day. We were out for lunch at a fast casual restaurant in downtown St. Pete (I feel like it was PDQ, but it’s really not important). I arrived, went to the counter to order, told them my name, took my receipt, opted not to give a tip, and went to sit down. Bob followed suit and came and joined me. As he sat down, he looked at me and said “you know, I really like you.” And obviously being the narcissistic teenager I was, this caught my attention. But what followed totally took me by surprise. Bob continued,

“ but it really bothers me that you *never* say Thank You.”

As a sixteen year old, it was not very often that I had gotten called out about my actions. Bob continued to explain how important it was to always say thank you to every person he comes across — someone who opens the door for him, leaves a tip, cleans up after themselves, asks about his day, helps with homework, anything under the sun. About how if you appreciate the small things we all do for each other, we can overall improve the dynamic of our relationships. He told me numerous anecdotes of his time at the ice cream shop and how a thank you changes his day. I honestly wish I could remember them.

It may be silly to say this, but that moment changed my worldview in so many minuscule ways.

Everywhere I go, every waiter that waits on me, every door thats opened, every food thats served, every dish thats picked up, I say thank you. And even when it’s inconvenient, and I’m in a rush, and I have headphones in one ear, and sending texts with my hand, I stop. I look up. And I say thank you. I say have a lovely day. I say I wish you the best. Because I do. I am grateful for the work that anyone does and that should be acknowledged.

But the biggest thing that has come of this, is I have realized what a difference it makes in my communication and understanding of those around me by just saying those two extra words. I can see the smiles from my peers when the extra mile they took is recognized. I can see the extra care from those who make me my extra complicated Starbucks order by me being the first person in line to be considerate enough to say thank you and ask about their day. I noticed the appreciation from those whom I say thank you to even when they haven’t directly helped me, but have existed in their own world doing their own work. (In case that was vague and super poetic, I mean like custodial staff, librarians, HR assistants, etc.)

More recently, I said thank you to the lovely lady who helped my find my book in the library the other day and her response was truly what inspired this —

“You know I’ve been here all day, and you’re the first person to say Thank You. And it truly made the difference.”

All this is food for thought, two words go a long way. Imagine how much a difference it would make it we were all a bit more aware of the way we interact with those around us.