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It’s happened to me many times, two out of three times this week. A woman sitting near me in the Delta Sky Club Lounge at MSP says, “Are you going to be here for awhile?”

“Yes,” I say. “Could you watch my phone,” she says. Her phone is getting its charge in a nearby receptacle. “Sure,” says me.

She goes away for maybe ten minutes, returns, never looks at me, never says “Thanks,” never says a word. I’m thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

At the doctor’s office recently I notice an older woman coming in a few yards behind me, I wait, hold a door, she says, “Oh, I’m slow,” then after passing through, “Thanks.” At another nearby medical office I’m leaving, I see a young woman, obviously pregnant, walking out behind me. I stutter step to slow down, hold two doors, she glances at me, never says a word and walks on.

I tell these two doctor’s office stories because the 60-something said, “Thanks,” and the 20-something did not. I’m not one to dump on the younger generation, but I see and hear this pattern regularly. In my estimation the younger generation has for the most part lost the art of saying, “Thank you.”

I’ll never forget holding a door in 1981 for a coed entering the University of Cincinnati Student Union behind me. She cussed me for doing so in no uncertain and rather loud terms. She didn’t bother to develop her point of view, but I surmise that in her mind I had somehow violated her feminine liberation by my blatant act of chauvinism. Apparently she felt I had not yet learned that women were more than capable of making it on their own.

But this isn’t just a young person’s thing. I’ve experienced this many times over in professional settings. Sometimes the omission is so glaring it’s astounding. People simply assume you should meet their needs, don’t give it, which is to say you, a second thought, or have never been taught good manners in the first place.

I realize that if I extend kindnesses to others in order to garner “Thank yous,” than there is something wrong with my attitude and actions. But I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

I think my Boomer Generation and those who come after us have shed some of our mannerly sensibilities, if we were ever taught them in the first place. While you can find a thousand individual exceptions to this statement, I still think we live in a coarser age. The zeitgeist of the early 21st Century, at least in American culture, is more about Me, the individual, than Others. Add to this a sense of entitlement and you get what we have, a culture that’s lost the art of saying “Thanks.”

I’m certainly not perfect, much less a model. But I’m trying to remember to say “Thanks” more often and certainly when it is deserved, even more when someone has done something for me or mine that, clearly, they did not have to do.

My son-in-law, Joe Drouillard, supports my website, gratis, on his server, at “Thanks, Joe.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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