I said thank you, already!

I’m not an overly grateful person, but I think I said thank you roughly 50,000 times today. Why? Because I work in retail, in Britain. That makes for an overwhelming combination of gratitude and apologising for no real reason.

Every exchange with a customer requires at least four offers of thanks:

  1. For handing over the item they wish to purchase.
  2. For giving me their money.
  3. For thanking me in return.
  4. For leaving.

This abundance of appreciation does make you wonder about the value of the word. Am I really grateful for every step of the retail journey? Am I genuinely glad to receive a handful of coppers to count out? Or am I just filling the gaps in our exchange in an effort to be polite.

I’m leaning towards the latter.

But of course, we have to be polite. So perhaps, as retail assistants, we could try to be more creative with our niceties:

Customer: hands over items

Assistant: I shower you with appreciation

Customer: hands over money 

Assistant: Do I get to count all of these? That’s spiffing!

Customer: thank you

Assistant: Indeedy

Customer: leaving

Assistant: Jolly good. Tally-ho!

I know, it sounds bizarre. But that’s the point. It sounds as ridiculous to say ‘spiffing’ in the 21st century as it does to say thank you four times in under a minute. Almost every interjection from the assistant is unnecessary, but we will continue to over-thank at the risk of sounding insincere in order to be polite. 

So what’s the answer? To hell will politeness. Tomorrow, I am going to perform a wild experiment and say thank you only when it is necessary. Wish me luck and…

Thank you for reading!


8 thoughts on “I said thank you, already!

  1. You should move to Russia. No-one says thank you to strangers there (and very rarely to friends) unless it’s utterly, desperately necessary. Here’s how a typical exchange in retail goes:
    [Customer enters shop and goes up to till]
    [Assistant carries on filing nails/looking grumpy/staring into space.. then eventually]
    Assistant: I’m listening.
    Customer: Give me three loaves of bread.
    [Assistant huffs and goes to fetch bread. Slams it down on counter]
    Assistant: 50 rubles
    [Customer says nothing, hands over money]
    [Assistant says nothing, rings it up, begrudgingly counts out change if necessary, shoves it over grumpily]
    [Customer walks out of shop].

    Easy peasy. It still got me though when I moved there. Everyone laughed at me for saying thank you and please too much.

    Loved the post. x


      • It was ace. I want to hear how your experiment goes. Russia is jokes, they have a two-tier system for entry to museums etc. Foreigners pay more. The only sure fire way to make them believe you are a Russian is to storm up, keep your mouth shut and slam the correct change down on the counter like you are doing them a favour by visiting. Works every time.

      • I will hopefully post something tomorrow. I’ve got a 4 hour shift so I would guess that’s a possible 20,000 ‘thank yous’ to sidestep. If I’m ever in Russia I will definitely take your advice!

  2. Pingback: Part 2: I said thank you, already! | therealmissopinionista

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