Thank you: they're two simple words but some people have a great deal of difficulty stringing them together and spitting them out. Why are some people unable to express their gratitude when you pay them a common courtesy? When a "thank you" is glaringly omitted from a small social interaction, I sometimes say "You're welcome", although anyone who goes through life with an air of self-importance and a sense of entitlement would be unlikely to register the passive-aggressive nature of this quip.
You have to wonder how some adults manage to get through life without acknowledging the part other human beings play in making their day a little easier. Here are just five examples of how I've been taken for granted by perfect strangers recently.
1. Lady in pool
Earlier this year I was perched on a sun-lounger poolside at a resort at Denarau, Fiji, when a lady in the pool asked me if I had the time.
I looked at my bare wrist before locating my iPhone which read 5.43pm. "It's quarter to six," I told the woman who turned away without a word. I had served my purpose. "You're welcome" was just one of the things I said under my breath.
2. Man in airport lounge
Just a few days later I was in a cramped lounge at Nadi airport. Because of the narrow spaces and the layout of the chairs, every time one particular man wanted to get out he had to squeeze between me and a round coffee table. Instead of making this difficult for him and instead of requiring him to request my cooperation to enable him to exit, I anticipated his needs.
Every time he approached, I shifted my legs out of the way and held them on such an awkward angle that he could easily move past. This happened several times and not once did this man acknowledge the fact that I was making a potentially tricky situation easy for him. He didn't say "Excuse me" either. He was so staunchly silent that I wondered if perhaps he had not been afforded the gift of speech. Then I heard his deep, important-sounding voice and realised he was suffering from a case of ignorance and entitlement.
3. Ungrateful car drivers
There's a suburban street I often drive along that, thanks to parked cars along each side, has just room for a single lane of cars to proceed in one direction. In order to allow these vehicles passage, drivers going in the opposite direction must stop and wait. So far, so logical. Anyone who uses this road frequently takes turns being in the vehicle which proceeds and being in the one that must wait.
But what we all do not do is show our appreciation for the motorists who are courteous enough to stop. I always give a super friendly wave to those considerate drivers that have enabled me to get safely through this narrow patch of road. But when I was the leading stationary motorist and a blonde woman in a Remuera tractor blithely sailed through without acknowledgement or a sideways glance I saw red.
4. Stair users
The stairs in Newmarket's Rialto car-park building are fairly narrow. It is easier and more elegant to not encounter several people going in the opposite direction. So the other day when I realised some people were coming up while I was proceeding down, I chose to wait on a landing until they had passed. They went past without acknowledging me. I'd stopped and stood aside especially to enable them to proceed more freely. Maybe they figured I just stood around the stairwells of public car-parks for fun. "You're welcome," I thought. That was fifteen seconds of my life I wasn't going to get back.
5. People accustomed to doormen
Like many people, I sometimes hold a door open for others in public spaces. I don't go out of my way to do so. My vague rule is to hold doors open only if the alternative is to slam it in someone's face. I don't do it as some dramatic selfless gesture. Nonetheless, I expect a word of appreciation from those who profit from my action.
It is my experience that 90 per cent of people do say "thank you". The rest of them are rude and silent. In such cases, I just stare after them and figure they must be accustomed to the services of doormen. At least 10 per cent of the population clearly don't thank doormen either, which is also rude. They could at least have given me a tip as they waltzed through.
I've got a tip for them: say "thank you" next time.