Thank You, Very Much


July 16, 2011

I just finished writing 15 thank you notes to all the people I have worked with in the last two weeks. I know I’m an anachronism and it isn’t like an Outlaw to be so polite. Yet, I truly believe there is no way an ephemeral missive can suffice to truly express the gratitude you might feel for a job well-done, a special gift or a wonderful event.

And while I know it is better to give than to receive I can’t help but notice how rare it is to receive a thank you note these days.  When I do get one I’m so grateful my instinct is to write a thank you note for the thank you note. Perhaps, polite is the new “Outlaw.”  

I get it.  This is a fast-paced world nobody has the time to sit down a write a note.  Why bother, when you can send a quick thank you by e-mail or better yet, text.  But too often even those thank you notes are overlooked or lost in the ether. I’ve yet to receive a thank you note for my niece’s birthday present from 3 years ago, which she swears she texted to me.  By the way that was the last time I gave her a present. I know it is the gift that counts – oh, I mean the thought – but whatever happened to having the thank you count too.

I will confess that sometimes I forget to write a thank you. Or sometimes I forget I’ve written one and write more than one.   I’m not sure how I got the thank you gene – none of my siblings or their progeny seem to possess it. But I’m hoping when my kids leave our house they will hear me saying in their head, “Did you write those thank yous yet?”   Now, Instead of thank you notes being a regular requirement, they are only expected to be written for larger occasions and even then it often takes months to receive the acknowledgment. I’ll never forget the dinner party we threw, when within days each couple who attended sent a hand-written thank you note – all I could think was those people are definitely getting invited back.

And don’t get me started on the illegible or one-line thank you.  When my children write thank you notes I give them a template so they will write something more than just one line.  My husband argues isn’t it enough for them to just send the note whatever the length, why should they have to think about what they write?  I’m certain there was thought in the gift-giving, so doesn’t the thank you note deserve a little though as well?

And that’s why it struck me as simply brilliant and “Outlawish,” when I received a thank you note from Beth Gamble, owner of the Water Lily Spa in Rochester for just entering her store and buying some make-up.  I rushed in one day after learning they were the only store that carried my brand of make-up which I first purchased at a large department store in Boson while traveling on business. Not only did I get a quick tour of the spa but I got a thank you note – handwritten. That store in Boston sent me nothing.   Beth credits her mother with her innate sense of etiquette and an actual etiquette course she took in Boston when she was 18. She also trains all her employees to write to new clients after they visit the store. She says, it is just part of their culture to thank people for their patronage… with an actual thank you. Think of that. She had me at “Thank you.”

So, in case I forget, I want to say in writing right now, thank you dear readers for following @suburbanoutlaw on Twitter, “liking” the Suburban Outlaw Facebook page, and for taking the time to read my column.  Thank you, very much. Signed, a grateful Outlaw.

As first published in the Democrat + Chronicle and on the USA Today Network