Saturday, 12 October 2013

Learning to say "thankyou"

is difficult.
By this I do not mean the sort of everyday "thankyou" we say for all sorts of things.  What I mean is the sort of "thankyou" for a bigger gesture that someone else has made an extra effort over.
I hope I am very conscious of the need to thank people, of the need to say "I appreciate what you did".
I, unusually for me, asked someone to do something for me the other day. I think she was pleased to be asked. It will indirectly benefit both of us and quite a number of other people. It was a small thing, a very slight detour on her way home to drop some things off at our place so that I can pass them on to someone else. That person has now paid for them and the money will go into the funds for our knitting guild.
I made a point of thanking the deliverer at the time and next time I see her I have a spare ball of yarn I know she can use for the hats she knits for charity. I won't tell her "that's for delivering". I'll just tell her "I thought you might be able to use this for the hats".  I know I don't have to do this but I will feel more comfortable about it because it was an extra effort on her part.  She didn't volunteer. I asked. It's a gesture, nothing more.
The Senior Cat needed some help in his shed recently. Someone he knows put him in touch with someone else. The man turned up and spent a little time there and refused payment for his services. "Pass it on" he told the startled Senior Cat. Yes he will. Since then we have seen the man who put him in touch and he said, "X said he was so impressed that someone your father's age is still doing things for other people that he wanted to do something for him - so he can go on doing things for others."
As a result of the help he got the Senior Cat has managed to help someone else - and told them to "pass it on" too.
I have been going backwards and forwards to see a friend in a nursing home. It's a fair distance to pedal and the journey there is up the hill. It takes time I do not have but will make because I know that the friend does not have a lot of time and her younger cousin needs the support of my visits. I don't expect or want to be paid to do it. The smile I get is more than enough thanks.
And sometimes that is all you need. Trying to pay someone for what they have done can turn out to be the wrong thing.
Now please don't misunderstand me here. If you ask people to do something then proper payment is to be expected - and I believe you should pay them promptly as well. Don't ask someone to do something they should be paid to do unless you are prepared to pay them? Well no, I won't.
But there are also times when I may volunteer to do something. If I do then I don't expect to be paid for it. The question "How much do I owe you?" or the statement "I have to give you something for that" is an embarrassment then. It is also a rebuff. It suggests that the other person is rejecting a friendly gesture - or perhaps even friendship itself. It can make you wonder whether the gesture was really appreciated or merely tolerated. 
I recently offered to do something for someone else. The offer was accepted and I did the job. The recipient then tried to pay me for it. She was quite insistent. I refused. She then tried to give the Whirlwind something instead. I know the Whirlwind would have been thrilled with what might have eventuated but she showed a great deal of maturity and refused.  She refused because even at her age could see it was not right to accept any form of payment. "She should just have said 'thankyou'. It's like she doesn't want to be friends."
The Whirlwind is not yet old enough to fully understand the difference between "friends" and "friendly" but yes, it was as if she didn't want to be friendly.
Learning to really thank people is hard. I suspect it sometimes involves giving them less but meaning it more - and passing the gesture on to someone else instead. Perhaps the recent experience has been a good thing for me. It's a reminder to thank people properly and appropriately.

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