I Don’t Say ‘Thank You’

(or even ‘thanks’)

The other day I went to Subway, and asked the guy working there if the ‘saturates’ advertised on the menu meant ‘carbohydrates’; he didn’t know, but another customer told me that they meant ‘fats’. So I took his advice, got home, and looked up the real carbohydrate figures online.

My sister later informed me that I hadn’t verbally thanked the bloke for telling me about what ‘saturates’ meant, which surprised me; in the same way that some people thank others for doing things, such as raising a hand when a car stops to let you pass, as if it were a reflex, I do the opposite – I don’t verbally show my appreciation without making a conscious effort.

This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate it when people do things for me – that guy at Subway helped me manage my diabetes, which is rather important to my continued existence – but I don’t feel the need to let them know I appreciate it. If there are two people involved in a favour – the one doing the favour, and the one benefitting from it – perhaps I consider the focus of such an interaction to be on the one benefitting, that this favour only exists for that person’s benefit, and so as long as there is a benefit, the favour has been successfully completed.

Conversely, favours may be done for the benefit of the one doing them, giving those people a sense of helping others and altruism; if this were the case, then surely a verbal ‘thank you’ would be important to ensure the doers of favours realise that their actions were appreciated. However, I’m taking the alternative, optimistic, view on this one, that favours are done for the genuine benefit of those receiving the favours, meaning a ‘thank you’ is a nice touch, but is not necessary to complete the favour – the favour being done should be enough.

This isn’t really a conscious differentiation, but one that I’m making now, having spent (apparently) years not saying ‘thanks’ to people as much as others do (seriously, my friends could have told me about this sooner); so if you lend me a hand, and I don’t thank you with words, don’t think I’m an arsehole in that instance, I’m probably trying to express gratitude by actually taking advantage of the service you’ve done for me.

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