Say Thank You, Please
Hey folks, sorry if this column is a little too goody-two-shoes, but do you ever think about certain vanished people of your life? I’ve been thinking about mine, people who have floated into my life and then out, who have done me kindnesses and never hung around to be thanked. I remember them.
One day not too long ago, a rather small man was watching me as I stood in a store line waiting to make payment on an appliance I’d managed to wedge into my cart. I’d put the box into the cart with the bar code on the bottom and was having a difficult time pulling it up so the check-out lady could ring it up. It was hopeless. But not to the little man. Grinning, he stood on tiptoe, reached into the cart, wrenched the huge box out, showed the cashier the bar code and balanced it back in for me. He smiled, walked away and was gone before I could thank him. Thank you sir.
I know I’ve told this story before but it means much to me. There were some hunters, a bunch of grizzled, rough and tough guys with guns in their truck, wearing flame-orange outfits, on their way to get their family’s yearly supply of venison. I was in our van driving down a hill, and a misting rain suddenly turned everything to black ice. The van went completely out of control, spun, and slid rapidly sideways into a ditch. I got out and stood looking helplessly at the van, its butt almost straight in the air. The men in their truck stopped, all got out and wordlessly walked over, literally picked up the van and set it back on the road for me. I stammered my thanks, offered money, began to babble, but they just silently got back into their truck and drove off, heroes all to me. Thank you, guys.
There was the man in a variety store. I was very young and not having a particularly good day for a range of reasons. He stood by and watched me struggle with my problem, then waited ‘til the coast was clear and came up to me, grinned down at me and said, “Please, try to be patient. This will all go away and you will be happy, I promise you. Be patient! Trust me. I promise!” He left the store, and I never forgot his words. But I did trust that kind stranger, and as it turns out, he was right. Today I’m remembering him. Thank you, sir.
A woman once ran over my beloved dog Punch, scooped him up, heaved him into her car and sped off to a local vet’s, where she paid for his recovery and had the veterinarian call my home from the number on Punch’s tags, and then she disappeared. I realized she could not put me into her car too, being a stranger, so she did the next best thing and saved my beloved dog. I never got to thank her. Thank you, kind lady.
In my early teens, I was once caught by a teacher doing something so egregious, so against the rules that had she told my parents, I’d still be grounded. But she smiled and believed me when I said I’d never done it before and never would again, and she not only didn’t tell on me, she didn’t get me expelled. I well remember her! Thank you, kind teacher
Thus at the risk of sounding awfully schmaltzy, too good for my own good, too preachy, I’d suggest that today, when it’s not a special day, not Christmas, not your birthday, a religious or patriotic holiday, to go through your heart and memories and pull up those forgotten people who’ve helped you along the way, and thank them. I get to do it in this column but you please go find some stranger who needs a favor, give it, and don’t hang around to be thanked. After all, would you not agree that we can best repay those who bestowed anonymous kindnesses on us when we needed them by paying them forward to someone else? Yeah, I knew you would. Good job!