A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Since When Is It Too Much Trouble to Say "Thank You"?

A Texan "Thank you" demonstrated
I grew up in the Southwest USA. Being polite and saying, "Please" and "Thank you" were not just pleasantries to be exchanged, they were expected. If a man happened to be wearing a cowboy hat, he tipped it or touched the front brim as he said, "Thank you, ma'am" or "Thank you, sir."  If you tripped up and forgot, your parents were there to remind you...constantly. I never wore a hat, I wasn't much of a cowgirl. I wore wire-rimmed glasses and organized protests. Polite protests of course.I read Germaine Greer and Proust and researched life on Mars. I wear my cowboy boots now (in protest) because I think paying £500 for a pair of Louboutins when children are starving and people are losing their homes is a travesty. Besides, they are a hell of a lot more comfortable. I equate some of the absurd shoe styles today to Chinese footbinding...quite unbearable, disfiguring and a step back for women (no pun intended). If men don't date women because they aren't wearing Jimmy Choos, then they probably aren't worth a second glance. (But I digress.)

According to a recent survey of computer users in the UK (conducted by an online gift shop)  they say that they would prefer to use the word, "Cheers", "Ta" or even "Wicked" rather than "Thank you." Four out of ten that were polled said that "Thank you" was just too formal.

What? Are you kidding me? Let me get a stopwatch. "Thank you..."  Less than a second to say it. And that's too much troubleThe fabled country of my youth, of Heathcliff and Mr. Darcy and impeccable manners thinks saying, "Thank you" is too much of a bother?

It gets worse.

"Hey! Right back at ya!"
Another third said that rather than say anything at all, they would like to just give you a quick wave.  And a whopping 77% said that any of the words used to say thanks were irrelevant because any pleasant sort of gesture would do just as well. What would that be? A wink? A thumbs-up? A hair flick? A big "L" made on your forehead with your thumb and index finger? (That might work.) 

Apparently, "I love you" is not really used that much either and "I miss you" is only used once a year with their significant other. (I can attest to that one.)

No wonder people in the shops turn bright red when I give them my American "Thank you" which sounds a bit like this: "Thank you sooooo very much for finding that item for me. I trooooooly appreciate your help!" Well, I do. Ever been in a British high street shop? If you can find someone who isn't talking to her boyfriend on the phone and can't be bothered to help you....that is a major coup.

Maybe next time, instead of saying "Thank you" to someone... I will just blink my eyes like Samantha Stevens from "Bewitched". That shouldn't take long. (Well, that's a facial gesture of expression isn't it?) Or would that be considered a  facial tic?  I will also attempt to materialize Doctor Bombay while I'm at it because, frankly, the idea of not being polite even in just small ways does make me feel a bit queasy. Blame my parents.