I’ve become aware recently there’s a phenomenon in our society that I call “thankless thinking”.
A couple of weeks back I’d been browsing through a shop and on impulse, as I was about to leave, I walked to the counter behind which the shop owner was sitting.
“Thank you!”, I said to her. “I’ve enjoyed looking around and love your window display.”
She looked up, apparently startled. There was a pause before she grinned broadly and said, “You know, I’ve had several people wander in today to look around but you’re the first person who has thanked me – for anything!”
We ended up chatting for a short time – passing from the strangeness of folk to the foibles of some customers, then through the story of her grand-daughter’s 21st birthday party to her plans for retirement.
As I left I found myself reflecting on how a simple thank you had led me into a warm conversation and a small piece of someone’s life story.
And I was reminded of an ‘experiment’ I conducted for myself many years ago, when I was travelling to and from school on a bus.
For several days in a row I counted how many people alighted from the bus during the trip – and the number of those who actually thanked the bus driver as they left. Fom memory the thankers were only 20% or so of the whole!
For that shopkeeper, a ‘thank you’ is probably the usual response (with some rare exceptions) when a transaction takes place and a customer actually buys something. And maybe bus drivers are thanked more often by passengers these days – at least I hope so.
But I’ve found myself wondering … [Read more…]