Because we do not say thank you to anyone any more.
Not to family or friends, the prospect of saying thank you to people who owe us nothing is a far fetched dream. A irony of this lack of expression is social media though.
Say Thank You to the people, like the conductor who punched your ticket on the public transport, or the guy who held the elevator for you. Or for that matter who kept the door open when you walked in with your hands full. Their deeds are not extraordinary, but necessary nonetheless.
Thank You is a simple thing to say, common words in every language. If used apropos, they can explicit the gratitude.
I am trying to be genuine in my expression. It is difficult because everyone is a skeptic, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
A while ago, I met a girl who said Thanks to everyone. The ticket conductor, the rickshaw driver, the person who served our meals. Intrigued and awestruck I asked her why. Her answer was a shrug, a habit I guessed was ingrained in her demeanour.
I unwittingly adopted her habit. Soon I said thank you to the elevator man, the lunch boy, canteen boy, watchman, neighbour. Yeah, pretty much everybody.
It feels good, when you say Thank you to the conductor who just gave you change when commuting. It feels better when you say thanks for doing his job. Same goes for grocery shopping, say thank you and the stall owner and he is bound to greet you back with his hands raised and posed in a Namaste or a Salaam.
Seriously, try it.
A month ago, I took a bus home. Unfortunately, I had a 500 rupee note, 16 rupee change and the ticket was a mere 26 rupee in comparison. The conductor had no change to give me. He did not want to risk taking the note from me either, he explained that recently there is a plethora of fake currency.
He respectfully (that is a miracle in itself) asked me to get down at the next stop and take the next bus.
Distressed, I fumed about what to do because I did not want to wait for the next bus. It was already a long day at the office. The guy who sat in front of me overheard our conversation and offered to pay the remainder. That was bigger miracle.
In a small conversation he gave me a huge lesson in humility; he told me he was stuck with some money issue in the bus. Someone helped him out too then. Now he helped me out and asked me to help out another such stuck commuter if I could.
I promised that I will, thanking him more than once. I also made a promise to buy his ticket the next time we meet. Unfortunately, I no longer remember his name, face. He is now another random face in the crowd for me.
I still have not helped any other commuter in a similar fashion, but I help in any way possible.
There is more than one instance when the thank you is not acknowledged.
I get it, the listener may not have heard me. Maybe they were having a bad day. Its cool, its all cool.
Like I said, I enjoy saying the words. It is ingrained in me by my own deeds, a habit that I do not want to obviate.
The heart of the issue is most of the people do not say thank you. They act as they do not even care. I do not help people for their thank you, and at the risk of sounding a hypocrite, that nonchalance is offending.
I feel like staring at the people for whom I just kept the elevator waiting (this happens a lot of time in my office) to coerce them into saying thank you.
Like the girl however, I just shrug it off.
The irony of this situation is social media. For me saying thank you is not manners but I am assuming that they are manners for every other socialite.
On Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else, manners are rigorously followed. Every comment gets a thank you.
But in real life, thank you is lost, meaningless and taken for granted.
It says something about us, my generation. We consider the same words as a sign of weakness.
Suddenly, due to pop culture idolizing the stolid, arrogant protagonists and other ignorant heretics, saying and acknowledging other people’s kindness depicts a weak individual.
In stark contrast, help out an old person and wait till you hear him say Thank You Beta (son). There is the zenith of humility and graciousness. The qualities one should be chasing and not money.
I remember speaking to a good friend once and she told me about her classmates. One thing we both agreed on is the lack of humility everywhere. Everyone is a braggadocio. Everyone wants to prove their superiority. No one wants to help though, no one can say thank you and sorry anymore.
We debate about intolerance and feminism. We have not yet learned the basic, easy humane values. Then we wonder what is wrong with the world.