The Abandonment of “Please” and “Thank You”

Please say please more oftenLike (hopefully) most parents, mine taught me early on to say please when asking for something and to say thank you when something was done for me.  But it seems that somewhere along the line, an awful lot of kids forget to use these simple words.  Maybe they think they only have to say them when their parents are watching.  Or maybe kids somehow get the message that only kids have to say them. 

When I was in the third grade, my class made jam.  (I’m not sure where the educational value was in that, but it was fun.)  Several room mothers came in to help, and then they served jam sandwiches to everyone.  We all lined up, and when we reached the front of the line, we could request two half sandwiches of our choice.  I wasn’t a very aggressive or pushy kid, so I was at the end of the line.  When my turn finally came, I said, “Could I have one strawberry and one grape, please?”  The room mother made my sandwiches and handed them to me, to which I said, “Thank you.”

She exclaimed, “You’re the only person who has said please and thank you.  The only one! Here, have another sandwich.”

The other kids looked on enviously and began yelling, “Thank you!  Can I have another one, please?”  But the room mothers ignored them.

I was very surprised that other kids had not originally said please and thank you.  I just couldn’t (and still can’t) imagine not doing so. Thank you for saying thank you Even when making requests from people who are paid to serve me, I can’t imagine not extending that courtesy. I positively cringe when the person ahead of me at a drive-through says into the microphone, “Yeah, gimme a #6.”

This is me ordering at a drive-through window:

Me:  “Hi.  Could I get a Whopper, please?”

Clerk:  “You want cheese on that Whopper?”

Me:  “No, thank you.”

Clerk:  “Anything to drink or any fries with that?”

Me:  “No, thank you.”

Going through the checkout line at the grocery store:

Clerk:  “Did you find everything you needed today?”

Me:  “Yes, thank you.”

Clerk:  “Do you need any stamps or ice today?”

Me:  “No, thank you.”

Clerk:  “Do you want your milk in a bag?”

Me:  “Yes, please.”

Clerk: “Here’s your receipt.  Have a nice day.”

Me:  “Thank you.  You too.”

As a teenager and young adult, I worked in food service and retail, and I know I felt a lot better when people treated me respectfully. Some might argue that a few extra pleases and thank yous take up too much time.  I hope they stop to consider how quickly you can say those important words.  And I have to think that the people being addressed will feel just a little less demeaned for it.  It’s disrespectful to not use common courtesy with anyone, whether it is a stranger, a co-worker, an employee, a friend, a child, or your spouse.

Did you say please and thank you to everyone who helped you today?

 

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