Monday, July 12, 2010
You're Welcome, Thank you
"You're welcome" is now quaint. Just like the "Old South" it is becoming a thing of the past -something no longer needed. But I feel, the case is not that it is no longer needed, it is no longer understood. And, apparently Matt Zoller Seitz, a contributor to Salon.com shares my view and wrote a wonderful op ed about it last week.
If this is the case, what is the answer to "Thank you"? (God knows how long that phrase can hang on before going on the way of "May I please be excused?" from the dinner table.) Seitz gives a scary answer to that question: "No problem". But it is a problem - at least to me. Our civilization is going the way of our language. We no longer express respect for each other. (If we still have any.) And, I do not think it is generational.
Everyone should have an appreciation for his fellow man. In any transaction, it being a business deal (buying that new pair of Stewart Weitzman shoes), someone holding a door open for a lady (it still happens down here), a compliment on a great meal - when someone offers a "Thank you" showing their gratitude for your action, it is only appropriate to reciprocate with a "You're Welcome". Folks, how long does this take, 2 nano seconds? The phrase has 3 syllables, thanks to the contraction. For most of us this comes as an automatic response.
Maybe the younger folks are trying to make a point, a statement if you will, that they are independent and are no longer restricted by the conventions of a life style gone with the wind. Seitz attributes part of it to the influx of Romantic languages and "You're Welcome" literally gets lost in translation. Thomas Friedman says the world is flat. If so, perhaps this is a sign of things to come - the steam roller of an international society.
I disagree. If someone learns a foreign language, they learn its nuances as to not offend the people who speak it. Just like English, French and Spanish are full of terms that if translated literally would make no sense. And, there is no doubt that languages from the Middle East are the same. But this is not about world peace, this is about maintaining civility. This is an everyday issue that is occurring around the corner and down the street.
But, luckily I am safely ensconced in the Old South. A land of bread and butter gifts, thank you notes on monogrammed stationary, yes mams and sirs, friends of my parents I call "Miss" Lou as sign of respect instead of Mrs. Guthrie, gentlemen who walk on the street side of the sidewalk, behind a lady going up the stairs and ahead of her coming down, I would never consider not saying "Please", "May I", "Thank you" or "You're welcome". Etiquette and chivalry are like that old sideboard, we inherited, it has been around for generations (may have been through the war), it doesn't matter what condition it is in, it may be worn or restored, the main thing is that it is ours, it is not going anywhere,we will pass it on to generations to come. Our manners are ingrained in the patina of our old world - Thank You!