Recently, I read an essay which was written by a man who professed his lack of patience with a peculiar habit of his countrymen. He told of how the Italians don't like to answer invitations or, if they do, they tend to avoid making a commitment. One never knows, when planning a party, how many of those invited will simply show up. He finds this to be particularly aggravating and seems to think this is a breach of etiquette that is unique to the Italians. I beg to differ, having issued many an invitation or other type of query that required an answer or at the very least, an acknowledgement. I know the author's frustration and hold no hope that the trend will reverse any time soon.
I have my own personal etiquette peeve. Mine involves the loss of several time-honored and very uncomplicated series of words: please, thank you and you're welcome. Simple, to the point and ancient. Babies, the world over, have been taught these words. Prayers have started and ended with them, so have relationships and wars. Favors have been bestowed or withheld pending the mouthing of these easy expressions. Our first words, our earliest forms of communication. Do or die, especially with figures of authority who patiently awaited their utterance.
My best friend Cam recently brought this to light when she told me that she has yet to receive any acknowledgement whatsoever for a gift she thoughtfully chose for her niece's birthday. She was visiting me at the time of the purchase and together we ooohed and ahhhed over the perfect choice. We agreed that her niece would love the hand crafted pottery bowl, ornamented with shells which would remind her of her beloved Cape Cod. The party came and the gifts remained unopened. Surely a note would soon follow. After all, the recipient was a well-educated physician, celebrating a fifthieth birthday. To this date, one year later, neither she nor her sister in law who's gift was a rather large sum of money, have received anything from their niece.
What's happened? Where have the words gone? Why have they left us? Where are they now, at a time in history when we've needed them more than ever before?
As amazed at the times I have expected to hear a simple expression of thanks in vain, I am equally amazed at the times I do hear words of gratitude. That is a very sad note. Is a nod of the head supposed to signal thanks? Has "you're welcome" been totally replaced by "no prob"? Or, is it all down to the symbols used by the new generation as they text, tweet and social network on Facebook with a little "shout out"? It all escapes me. I refuse to buy it. I want to be thanked, the good old fashioned way, with simple words. No nods, signs, symbols of facial expressions for me, thank you. And if this is a "prob", I ask that you please consider a shout out so I will know, especially if I have invited you to a party.