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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


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 CHACHCHACH 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.


  1. Cranky, I don't have any Arab friends. Don't intend on having any either, but I'm not looking for any new friends no matter who they are. Sorry they are so rude. Must explain why some of them love to behead infidels. Or not. I do get the humor.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  2. I actually don't think I could stop myself saying please and thank you even if I tried it's so automatic. We don't tend to say you are welcome so much in England but it is said sometimes or we might say 'it's a (or my) pleasure - one thing I really wish I could stop myself from saying so often is 'sorry', usually when some ignorant person barges into me or lets a door slam in my face - why the hell am I saying sorry!!!

  3. It's automatic with me, since I was always tormented with, "What do you say?" as a kid. Sometimes there was an awkward pause, sometimes lasting several awkward seconds. Then I'd get it. I guess it stuck. Funny how that works.

  4. So Arabs own ALL the gas stations in NJ? I think if I live there I'd rethink my opinion of electric cars.

    My peeve is to hold open a door for someone else and they walk straight through without a thank you or even eye contact and a smile. When it becomes apparent they aren't going to speak I rather loudly say "YOU'RE WELCOME!!"

    1. Uh, Electric Self Driving Cars with AI may not be all they're cracked up to be. Agent 54 will publish a report on this subject sometime next week.

  5. "Chach o chach" - omg - you are HILARIOUS! Can you imagine one of "us" busting into "their" country and rudely ignoring their "niceties?" God help us.

  6. I consider the work my parents (and other relatives) did to ingrain those three phrases into my being as some of the most important work they ever did. Very little in life opens more doors and makes more friends than the simple well-intentioned and genuine use of those words. They cost nothing to say, yet pay dividends constantly. If a culture exists without those words, it is several paces behind other cultures from the very start and the people of that culture will need to work their asses off to catch up (if they actually can.)

  7. "The Nice One" must be the owner.
    The rest of them just work there and are being told by "The Nice One" they're lucky to be employed.

  8. I learned those 3 phrases before we traveled to any foreign country!!

  9. I share Lowandslow's pet peeve about holding doors. I haven't had problems with gas station attendants, not that we have many Middle Eastern attendants here in Portland.

  10. Your post is about the lack of courtesy, but let me add the disrespect of a generation who does not understand "No problem" is no substitute for "You're welcome." I did not set out to trouble you, I thanked you for your courtesy. Respond in kind, please. "No problem" is not acceptable from grandchild lips.


  11. Ah, our expectations! Every generation is upset with the younger one. It's a continuous problem.

  12. OH! Joanne beat me to it. I was waiting to see if someone was going to mention the "No problem" problem. This drives me crazy. If you don't stop telling me "No problem," I'm gonna give you a problem to deal with. Just like my dad was always promising to give me something to cry about!

  13. Hey Dude, are you getting enough fiber in your diet :)

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. Good rant but I think you could cast the net much wider.

  14. You're possibly blowing in the wind Joeh. If their culture does not include those words then forcing them to learn and use them could be seen as...gosh I don't know what it might be seen as but it could cause an angry enough reaction to spark off another war. after all, 'they' get angry enough when we don't see their point of view on religious matters.
    I f we went to their country to live, would they see it as offensive? Us spouting please and thank you all over the place? If we went to live in their country, would we still try to force them to say those words?
    To us, it's just plain good manners to acknowledge the other and what they have requested, done etc, but to them it's so totally foreign and change of this kind will only come about gradually. As the next generation grows and goes to school here, the please etc will be learned, by the fifth or sixth generation it may well be commonplace, and if those sixth generation children should one day visit their homeland, they may be seen as oddities for saying the pleases and thank yous.

  15. Besides, they have their own methods of being respectful and courteous with each other and perhaps they use them with "us" and we just don't recognise them.

  16. Hey Joe, heres to the nice attendant at least one of the bunch shows a bit of respect, and this in my opinion is where the problem lies it is lack of respect for the most part.

    Yes Mam, No Mam, Yes Sir, and No Sir is another list of words we have taught our children, it would probably floor you to hear a good old Yes Sir from one of the attendants.

  17. I don't get out of the house much to realize if that is a problem here with please, thank you, you're welcome. Of course here it is probably por favor, gracias, and de nada since Spanish seems to be the most popular language spoken even over English though its still America where I live.....


  18. I was taught the 'You' re welome' phrase by a seven year old when I didn't use it after he said thank you in the airport where he arrived in the UK with his mum. I soon picked it up even though it's not standard over here.
    also learnt not to smile in Russia when you don't know someone.
    It's simply a matter of custom and quite possibly no one has bothered to tell your Arab attendant that it's the custom. He probably has the impression Americans are all Cranky.

  19. Have a terrific Silly Sunday Cranky. :)


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