Over the past year or two, I have observed the sad reality of a further loss of civility of discourse at the federal political level. Perhaps it was always so and merely now more publicly displayed. Nevertheless, politesse at that level and perhaps at more local levels is much less evident. When does this start becoming so? I was raised to not interrupt others and to say “please” and “thank you.” Perhaps this was the start of my family's effort to teach civility to my siblings and I. I suspect my family was not alone in this habit. For me, it “stuck.” I routinely would and do say “the magic words” on a daily basis, whether while shopping or to my patients. I also observe others with respect to this and have discerned a remarkable lack of the use of “thank you” in commercial interactions that would seem to warrant its use.
To wit, over the course of the last several years I have rarely experienced employees at various retail sites (Hannaford, Price Chopper, Mohan's, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Tile, Advanced Auto, Best Kitchen, Sears, Marriott, among others) simply say “thank you” when taking my money. I get “'there you go,” “have a good day,” “you're all set,” and “bye,” but nary a “thank you.” This prompted me on several occasions to query the store manager with the suggestion that repeat business may improve with such an expression of appreciation for the customer, each time being assured by the person that employee training emphasizes this. Sadly, nothing changes.
Perhaps “have a good day” is today's “thank you” equivalent. Perhaps my age is showing. Or perhaps our future senators and presidents will be more civil and caring if they hear those magic words more frequently in their daily lives. Perhaps.
Stephen Monn, Hartford