Despite TV indoctrination by the likes of a dumb dinosaur and his “Magic Words” song, children today often do not use any of the “Please, Thank You, You’re Welcome” trio. I try to get the Crankettes to use these words, and when reminded or prodded they use them correctly, but it has yet to become automatic.
Silly, isn’t it that these words are so important in our culture. I don’t think they are used or have an equivalent in some cultures. I may be wrong of course, but in my experience our Mid-eastern Arab friends do not use these words.
What is my experience you ask? Well there is not a gas station in New Jersey that is not owned and run by our Arab friends. The attendants at these stations never use any of the trio. I know this. I do not expect any traditional politeness, and yet when I pay and offer my “Thank You” for an attendant having done his job and put gas in my tank and accepted money from me, I still get an empty feeling when I do not get a return “You’re Welcome.”
Look, I understand you don’t speak perfect English. I have learned that when I order gas and you spit out an almost unintelligible, “CHACH O CHACH” that you are asking “Cash or charge?” I don’t expect you to learn how to pronounce two friggin words, or even ask nicely, “chach o chach sir?” I know that when I ask in return, “Excuse me?” you will spit out even louder and more intimidating, “CHACH O CHACH…CHACH O CHACH.” I’m OK with that, but do not leave me hanging for my “You’re Welcome.”
In this country we are all ingrained with the polite trio of words. If we do not get a “Please” for even the most simple request we feel used. If we do not get a “Thank You” in return for a simple deed, we feel used. If we say thank you and do not get a “You’re Welcome” you might as well declare war.
In all of New Jersey, I know of one gas station attendant with a single eye-brow and a strap-on beard who always says, “Thank You,” “Please,” and “You’re Welcome.” Mrs. Cranky calls him the nice attendant. When we pull into his station and he is not on duty she says, “Damn, we don’t get the nice attendant.”
I don’t get it. It really is not hard, it’s not like we want you to change your religion or your way of dressing, or to even take a shower, just learn three friggin words and when to use them. Actually, make that five words if you count cash and charge. If they could just learn five words, that would go a long way to bringing peace and harmony to our diverse cultures.
Well, that and stop chopping off heads.