Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Captain Kangaroo's "Magic Words"

Don’t you just love it when you pull up to the drive-through window at your favorite fast food place (if that really exists) to pay for your order and, when receiving your change, the uninterested young worker with the vacuous expression, glumly hands it to you. The majority of the time, we have experienced, there will be no comment or standard “thank you” of any kind. AndI the few times there is an utterance, it’s usually “There ya go, “ or “Have a nice day,” which is better than nothing, I suppose. However, our thought is shouldn’t we, the customer, be receiving a “thanks” for spending our money? It should be something that all employees have been thoroughly indoctrinated with during their training, especially those who deal directly with the customer: “Please” and “Thank you.”

Those words were always the “magic words” we learned in our youth. Those old enough to remember Captain Kangaroo will know exactly what we’re talking about here. When one thinks about it, those words go a long way in most situations. We have, on several occasions, after receiving our change without a comment of any kind from the window clerk, remained there and waited patiently for the elusive “thank you.” Imagine the confusion the clerk is now faced with (“did I screw up?”; “did I short change them?”) not to mention the growing frustration of the folks in the line behind us! Sadly, when we break the stalemate by saying demonstrably and sarcastically, “Thank you,”  the clerk, smilingly relieved, replies: “You’re welcome!”  missing the point entirely.

And that is the gist of this whole thing to begin with. That clerk legitimately did not realize that he/she had failed to do what is expected in the common flow of communicating civilly with one another. Obviously, the clerk had not been thoroughly trained by the employer, which might be an indictment of those who are responsible for making sure anyone working for their company would be fully aware of common courtesy. And it’s really a sad thing altogether that any person should have to be “trained” to offer up those “magic words” in the first place! 

Why has there been such an abandonment of these “common courtesies” over the years? Is it a shift in the norms of a society that just doesn’t care enough any more? Is it the carelessness of parents who have better things to do than to nurture their children in these things? Is it the laxity of the schools to find room within their curricula to teach and provide opportunities to learn this? We believe the answer to each of the above questions is a big YES!  Perhaps, we need another Captain Kangaroo!  

More on this topic as we travel along. See you down the road…MLA

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