Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?
Brian Regan does a great routine where he talks about the phrase, “You too”, and the awkward situations in which he has used it. Like when a cab driver drops him off at the airport and tells him to have a nice trip, and Regan responds, “You too.”
I have two phrases that I say reflexively. The fact that they are so embedded in my daily dialogue says a lot about what a doormat I am. Or was. I am about to make a concentrated effort to eradicate – “Sorry” and “Thank you.”
I say “Sorry” so much that it’s the only Japanese word I remember after spending three weeks in Japan (I said “Sumimasen” to all of the million people in Tokyo, and most vociferously to the ones who tried to crush me alive on the subway). I apologize to people who run into me. I apologize to inanimate objects, such as chairs, that I run into. This has got to stop. I guess I should probably try to stop running into chairs while I’m at it.
And I’m always thanking people. Even when they have just screwed me over. The following is just one of many examples:
The other day, I went to Wendy’s to get a salad for lunch. When I tried to pay, my credit card was denied. Three times. I had no cash because I’d lost my debit card (completely different story, but short: I looked for it, and it was gone.) Finally, I drove away with my tail between my legs, parked in a spot, and called my credit card company.
“Yes, ma’am. It appears that you are five days late with your payment.”
“Really? That never happens – not in 20 years. Don’t you give a little warning or something before you completely shut people down? I never got a notice or anything.”
“Well, since you are a member in good standing, and the owner of the infamous Wonderbutt, let’s take care of this right now, and I will reinstate your card.”
After we got that all figured out, and I was assured that my card would be good to use in 24-48 hours, and she had arranged for my minimum payments to be subtracted from my bank account for the rest of my life – or at least until the person who stole my debit card managed to clean out my account – she told me to have a good day.
And I said, “Thank you.”
WTF? I asked myself as soon as I hung up. I just thanked a person whose company, after 20 years of on-time payments from yours truly, noted on a computer that my payment was late this month, gave me a FIVE DAY grace period, and with no warning, stopped my card. And embarrassed me at the Wendy’s drive-thru. This mindless thanking of people has got to stop, I resolved.
But not the mindFUL thanking. The world needs more of that. So, today, I got some cash out of the ATM, and bravely returned to Wendy’s. I ordered the salad again, and was happy to see that the same person was working in the drive through. The same person who patiently tried my credit card three times. The same person who gave me my lunch for free after my credit card was denied three times. The same person who didn’t call me a big loser for trying to use a cancelled credit card.
She didn’t recognize me. It might have something to do with the Charlie Sheen costume I was wearing.
When I paid her, and she gave me my change, I stopped her. “Keep it,” I said. “You were nice to me a couple of weeks ago when my credit card didn’t work, and I want to say Thank You.” She looked surprised, and grateful. It wasn’t a huge amount, but definitely way more than a regular tip + the amount I owed her. I felt like I had redeemed myself, and drove away feeling a little better about myself. Because generosity is, after all, inherently selfish.
I finished my day at work with a bit more spring in my step.
Then I went home and shredded the offer from my credit card company for a card with a higher limit. That will show them.