Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thank you, I'm Sorry

Two phrases that I'm trying to use less: "Thank you" and "I'm sorry". Sounds weird, doesn't it? Like I'm intentionally trying to be less-mannered or something? Actually, I'm just trying to return their relevance. At both of my jobs, I have to thank customers constantly, and that's OK. When I am a customer myself, I appreciate being thanked for my business, my patience, or whatever. Sometimes I have to apologize as well-- wrong drink made, check on hold for a week, long line. That's OK too. It's just part of the job and I take some pleasure in being professional and courteous. But in my personal life, I sometimes act like an employee out of habit.

I find myself apologizing to strangers over nothing. Do you know what I mean? When someone else bumps into you in a crowded place, and you instinctively burst out, "Sorry!" I accidentally thank people for *not* holding the door open for me: when they do that half-assed thing where you sort of shove the door open a little further behind you, but it's too soon and the door still slams into the next person? So that it *looks* as though you held the door but in reality you did not? I'm so used to thanking people that I say 'thanks' anyway, and they can't hear me, because they're already inside the store. I want to save "I'm sorry" for real apologies, things that I'm sorry for, things I regret. I want "I'm sorry" to mean something and not be a trivial nothing that I throw out into the open continuously. I want to thank people only when they've done something for me, so that "Thank you" implies real gratitude and not just routine 'manners'. I want to say both with sincerity, meaning and eye contact with the other party. I want to reclaim true manners and get rid of the false, silly stuff masquerading as politeness.


Benjamin said...

Thank you so much for writing this wonderful entry.

I'm sorry I didn't call you back the other day. I will tomorrow.

Mara said...

Ben, do I detect a wee bit of sarcasm there?