Unfortunately, we’re part of a society that’s not so concerned with pleasantries or etiquette as we have been in the past. More times than not, we forget the little courtesies that should be unspoken such as holding the door for others and thank you notes. Do we just not think of these things or do we just not care anymore? This week’s post from staff writer Frank Friedlander discuss just this topic. What are your thoughts on common customs and etiquette?
One thing that I’ve always taken up issue with is the idea of customs. You know, those little pleasantries that we often find ourselves making sure that we do for no other reason than that we’re trained to do it when the situation arises. Yes, dating is one of the situations in which so many of those come into play. I’ve touched on these before, but I’m talking about everything from pulling your dates chair to bringing flowers. While these customs, while not as necessary as they once were, they do serve some minor benefit to individual that you are doing them for. However, in other cases, they are just an inconvenience to you, and all that it offers the person on the other end is some minor satisfaction. Satisfaction in knowing that they did something for you, and now, and now you must reciprocate in the most frivolous and pointless was possible.
That’s right people; I’m talking about the dreaded thank you note. Granted, when sending out a few at a time, it’s no big deal. However, when forced to send them out in bunches following a wedding or a child’s birthday party, it becomes agonizing. Even anxiety inducing. I only bring this up because our daughter’s second birthday is coming up, and the party is next Sunday. We’re already bracing ourselves for that pile of thank you cards that we’ll ultimately send out, simply because society dictates it as being the right thing to do.
It brings me back to our wedding. We received a lot of great gifts from a lot of friends and family members. Sure, we could just say thank you next time we see each person, but no. Society says that we need to send out these cards in bunches. Don’t get me wrong, each gift is appreciated. Even if it’s something useless to us, there’s always the option to return it for something more practical. But why is that generic little note pulled from a package of 25-100 generic little notes no necessary to send out? It’s a pain in the ass for those sending them out. We have to get the cards. Write a quasi-personalized note thanking each person for the gift and how happy we have it and how we plan to use it. Come on, it’s a food processor. We plan on processing food with it. Did that really call for an explanation? And then there’s addressing each card. Blah.
Now if it was something that people actually wanted, and not just expected, it would be far more palatable. Can you really picture Aunt Eleanore, Cousin Sam, or you’re college roommate who you still picture opening beer cans with their eye socket eagerly awaiting the Mail Man…sorry, Post Man…sorry, mail delivery individual to bring them that little card? I sure don’t.
However, if they don’t get it, there’s always that sense of awkwardness next time you bump into them. Them: “So that was a great wedding. Thanks for inviting me.” You: “It wouldn’t have been the same without you.” Them: “So did you like the gift that we gave you?” You: “Yeah, we use it virtually every day.” Them: “That’s great. What did you make with it?” You: “Um…waffles. We made some amazing blueberry waffles with it this morning for breakfast.” Them: “You made blueberry waffles with throw pillows.” You: “Oh, about that… hey, hun, did you need me to help you with that?”
Now, if the thank-you card had been sent out, that little situation could have been easily avoided. In reality, when they do get the thank-you card, they’ll open the envelope. They’ll take a quick look at it. A quick sense of self satisfaction may or may not come over them. They’ll put you on the “don’t passive aggressively glare at next time I run into” list, and they’ll quickly toss it out along with the J. Crew catalog and envelope full of coupons for things that they don’t need. Of the 25-100 cards that you painstakingly send out, my guess is that 93% of them met that same fate, 6% were either lost in the mail or returned to sender, and maybe…just maybe you made old Aunt Eleanore’s day, and she’ll gleefully share the note with Uncle Maury, who passed away around the time that The Spin Doctors were considered cool. And then she’ll throw it away, along with the J. Crew catalog and envelope full of useless coupons. Perhaps if the giftees were to demand a thank-you card for their thank-you card from the gifters, we could finally do away with this pesky little custom.