20 May 2013

People seem to remember the Spouse Thingy and me. Oftentimes we'll return to a place we've only been once before, and are greeted with a warm "Welcome back," and are spoken to in a manner that suggests it's not just something they say to everyone. What we drink is remembered, what we were looking for in a store is recalled; little things that make it clear that we're noticed.

If we haven't been someplace for a while, that gets mentioned, too. And this is something that has gone on for decades, it isn't a phenomenon of living in a small town.

We've mused that we must be more than a little bit odd, because there's something that makes us different.

When the people at Starbucks began writing my name on my cup without asking, and knew exactly what I wanted--the only question being whether or not I wanted it Venti or Trenta--and they were comfortable enough to ask about my hair color (pink to red to pink and now a weird mix of brown and gray) I made an offhand comment about it being time to go elsewhere...I was too memorable.

The girl at the cash register agreed and said she doesn't always remember peoples' names and what they always gets, even if she does remember their faces.

I mused that since my order never changes, that made it easy.

"No," she said, "you're always polite. You always say 'thank you' to both me and the barista. And you clean off your table before you go."

That surprised me.

Doesn't everyone thank the person who just took their order and made their drink? Most people are, fundamentally, good people, so I'm a little surprsed that the majority don't offer at least a modicum of politeness.

Yeah, there are a lot of dicks out there, those who seem to thrive on making others feel small, but most people aren't like that.

So I've been sitting here in Starbucks watching people come and go. And I'm honestly a little bit disappointed in what I've seen.

People aren't being impolite, exactly, but they're also not making an effort.

I've probably seen 30 people place an order; most hand over their money or their 'Bucks card, and then walk off without saying anything at all. Or they grunt what might be a thank you, but it's hard to tell.

When their order is up, the grab it and walk out.

There's no malicious intent there and they aren't grumbling at anyone or angry at the world; they're just people buying drinks. They aren't yelling at the cashier or berating the barista, and they aren't snipping at other customers; they probably just want to get out and on their way as soon as possible.

They aren't being impolite; they're being indifferent.

I understand it, but doesn't set right.

Thanking someone for taking my order just seems like the thing to do. Thanking the person who made it seems like the right thing to do. It doesn't matter if they're turning away to deal with the next customer or make the next drink; I still do it. I know they hear me, and most of the time I get a reply.

Yeah, they're just doing their job; you do yours, too and no one thanks you for doing what you get paid to do. You do it because you're supposed to, not for the thanks.


A little kindness goes a long way.

I will always--I hope--thank the people who are doing something for me, whether I'm paying for it or not. The server at Applebees who brings me drink refills will get thanked every time. The kid working at Walmart who shows me where the salsa is, the host who seats me at Denny's, the lady at the pharmacy counter who has to tell me I can't have a refill on my meds yet because I'm one day too early...if you are doing something for me, I damn well better thank you.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Thump, keep patting yourself on the back while you lecture us about manners.

Truly, that's not what this is about.

I'm just amazed that something so simple, something that everyone should be doing, has fallen to the wayside. When did we become so numb that a simple thank you is no longer reflex?

When did it become so difficult to take a napkin and wipe off the table you've been sitting at for two hours in the coffee shop?

I'm not always nice; I'm grumpy as hell a lot of the time. I really don't want to be greeted every time I walk into Home Depot, but the reality is that I know that woman will be there almost every time, and even though it's her job to say hello and be nice, that doesn't mean I shouldn't suck it up and be nice in return. That doesn't mean I should ignore her, even if all I do is offer a nod of my head.

There are a lot of times I'm not all that comfortable with being remembered when I walk into a place, but if this is the reason why, I'll accept it. Because the alternative...I don't want to be that person.

On the other hand, if you're a telemarketer--even though you're just doing your job--I'm probably going to hang up on you. I might even tell you to fark off.

We all have our limits.


Sleepypete said...

People remember me as well. They know me in Dominos, Pizzahut, the canteen at work ... KFC at the Mall too.

I think there's a correlation, there's my everpresent grin plus I clear my table up too (at KFC). I'm a guest in their place, I should help clear up.

Politeness pays off too. The canteen girls sometimes sneak extra turkey into my sandwiches when the bosses aren't looking.

Cheysuli and gemini said...

I'm not usually remembered. They still ask my name. Funny, I was thinking about how silly I must sound sometimes in the drive through saying No thank you and thank you when I finish placing my order because it's just that automatic.

I do know, as a retail person and front desk person, sometimes you remember people who just act a little different--and when they often come at times when there isn't a huge crowd or if they have set routines (the Lady who came to purchase a pile of romances every Sunday for instance). I wonder if that means I live in a more polite place?

Shaggy and Scout said...

Around here it's called Minnesota Nice. People for the most part are polite and kind. Newcomers recently have been writing letters to the paper lately that Minnesota Nice is a fallacy, some kind of joke because they rarely encounter it. I must agree that basic politeness is fading form the scene. I dunno, I always smile, say thank you. It's not something I have to remind myself to do, I just naturally do it. I hold doors no matter who is approaching or behind me. I let cars go in front of me when they signal to change lanes and frankly I think the fact that I let them in surprises the crap out of them! Sometimes I hope that they will pay it forward later in the day, or that I maybe I've de-stressed their commute or their day in some small way. -Lynne :)

Derby, Ducky said...

When my Dad was living at the senior community they would have one meal a day served to them in the dining room. When I would eat with him, if the serving staff, who were teenagers would do anything, I always said thank you. One day one of them said I didn't have to say thank you. I told him yes I did. Just because he was doing his job, didn't mean he didn't need to be thanked for doing it. Just being polite and if you act nicely to them, they in turn will do it for others.

kenju said...

I am with you all the way on that one. Too many people are indifferent to others nowadays. Mothers must be falling down on the job of teaching their children to be polite - considerate of others.

Angel and Kirby said...

To some of us, Thank you is an automatic response. Just like ma'am and sir are! My husband is always saying to me, setting in the living room with him, Thank you, ma'am. I have gotten use to it after 43 years. I have also notices that both children, their mates and grand children do it too!

kmburkezoo said...

I've come to understand that it's an American thing; it makes us stick out abroad (both in the countries I've lived in in Europe, and in Mongolia, where I am now). I'm not sure how Americans came to have the reputation both of being loud and impolite and of thanking people for things that "don't require a thank you," but apparently we do. I get weird looks from the locals here for thanking them for everything. A lot of the time they don't even answer with "zugeeree" (no problem), just "za" (OK).

I'm with you, though - I don't feel right not thanking people for things.