Have you ever thought what a word “thank you” may mean to anyone? Have you ever thought how nice it could be just to smile and then say “thanks”? That polite word could make wonders, cheer someone up and just make his or her day more bright!
I never payed attention to it till I was 14 when I went to the US for the first time in my life. Surely, I read lots of books and lots of magazines, at school we practiced dialogues and that “thanks” came out from my mouth as a skill without any personal attitude.
I remember saying the wonderful word at the airports as I was flying alone and was very scared. I was scared to death as I thought:”Just one mistake, and I will be detained or something”. Surely, that was a child’s fear. I remember a Spanish woman who said “thanks” to me when I picked up a toy that her little baby had thrown onto the floor. Now I do clearly see “thanks” as something that is very important in one country and is a sign of stupidness and weakness in the other. But when 14, the world is wonderful, and you don’t even pay attention to such details. Here I would agree with a great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who said:”A person is a scoundrel, who gets used to everything” (“Человек- подлец, который ко всему привыкает…”) I got accustomed to the usage or the magic word, to smiles and best wishes from people I have never met before- they were just nice to me, and to everyone else. Its hard to distinguish if that attitude was true or false but people were saying it, which means it was rather important for them.
I remember when I came back to St. Petersburg, me and my Dad went to a tiny shop near our house to get some lemonade. I said “thanks” to the person who had sold it to me, and saw no reaction. My Dad was still. When we left the place I ask my father why he had not said anything back to that person. I should admit that my father has been to many countries in 4 out of 6 continents, so he knew what I was talking about. He said there was no use as cultures were different.
Since my very first foreign trip I have been saying “thanks” almost to everyone. I see some people are doing that in Russia but that very rarely comes out naturally. I think people must be either too polite with good manners which is almost impossible in a modern society or they have had some cultural experience like me.
The more a person travels, the more experienced he or she gets. I never said “hi” to unknown people at the stores or just when asking a right direction in the street before that. Now I do. I think every person would like to be greeted as:”Good morning! Could you please tell me how to get to that place? (a smile) Thank you so much!” I am using “good morning” as it would have more effect on someone as it would happen at the beginning of the day.
I always admire how people do not say “thanks” and “hi” on transport and in public places. The more I observe, the more I see Russians think it’s cooler to be rude than polite. I am not saying it happens in 100 out of 100 cases but maybe in 90-95. Where did it come from? Why is it so? I guess everyone would like to be said “thanks” and “hi”, but there is a big question why people don’t make the first step.
I should admit I am not saying “thanks” all the time. I can be tired or absorbed with my thoughts, so “thanks” is not like an automized skill. I personally think when a person says “hi” or “thanks” or any other polite word, it shows his educational level. I do not want to divide people into groups, and remember there are always exceptions, but being nice is a very important thing.
I always scold my Mom and my friends who don’t say “thanks” to people who work on transport. These guys have their own argument:”It’s their job”. But if you imagine you were in that person’s shoes, would you like to be thanked? I reckon everyone would. At work, at school or at home? Saying “thanks” to your parents for a dinner or for a chocolate cake your friend has bought to you, for a person who gave you a seat because you were carrying a very heavy bag or a person who gave you some space on the road so you can go faster? I see no difference. I do understand the reaction of some people who stare at you like you have committed a crime saying that polite word. They find it abnormal, however, on the contrary, abnormality is not being polite. People are usually shocked by saying “thanks”, for example, when you walk along a very narrow street and you are in a hurry, you want to go faster so you ask a person who is ahead of you if he could let you go. My friends find it abnormal to thank the person as “he have done nothing”. No, he has done something. He has let me go, and it hasn’t been not his obligation to do it. Why couldn’t I thank the person?
I remember the case that happened to me last winter. I was standing in the street, waiting for the green light to cross it. I saw a young lady whose scarf was on the ground. No one said anything to her, I knew no one would ever say that (I don’t know why but it usually happens) so I addressed to her:” I am sorry but your scarf is on the ground”. The girl pulled the scarf and said nothing to me, she didn’t even smile as a response. That really offended me as it was not my obligation to say that, I just wanted to be nice. Sometimes a person does not want to keep on being polite when there is no response. Please do not forget life is like a boomerang so what goes around comes around, sooner or later.
Have you ever thought of the positive answer of the society after some attempts of being nice? I personally do not think I could be a witness of those changes within the nation as it would take a few epochs.However, some attempts could change something. Step by step, a bit by a bit, we, together, the Great Nation of Russians could change it. For sure, the national feature of hoping someone else will do it but not you would never help, but if every person just tries to be nice to the other unknown one just for one day, at least this day maybe a few of us could be full of beans.
Politeness is not just the choice of words but it’s attitude and a definite reaction. It is a mixture of upbringing and a personal attitude. In this article I gave the example of how a person can be polite due to developing own values. Every person is to decide, but don’t forget being nice is a key to success almost in every situation all around the Globe. A smile has an international understanding.