A Simple Phrase
I believe a simple thank you makes all the difference. I’m not talking about the person who just says it to be polite. I’m referring to the people that are sincere. They show a smile and look you directly in the eye as they tell you how grateful they are. It’s not just the fact that a person is practicing good manners but the reality that are expressing their appreciation. I think that it is these two words that make a person’s efforts worthwhile.
These two small words have had an affect on how I do my job. This past summer I was a lifeguard and swim instructor at a local swim club. Every morning I would wake up before dawn and head off to swim practice before enduring a thirty minute drive to work. By the time I reached the kids I was already tired, achy and often grouchy. For one hour I would be punched, bitten and kicked by ten five year olds. Most were afraid of the clear blue water and put up a fight as I desperately tried to get them within an inch of the pool.
As soon as I said “class dismissed” they ran to their parents who most of the time just gave me a nod before zooming off to their next activity. After each lesson I felt frustrated and unappreciated. It seemed as if neither the kids nor the parents cared or even noticed my efforts to help the kids. The feeling of thankless made the two week period almost unbearable.
At the end of the two week session I had some how managed to get all ten once terrified kids in the water. As I dismissed the class for the last time I wasn’t expecting any gratitude. As the pool deck cleared out and I began picking up the supplies one kid came up to me with a basket of cookies and a toothy smile. Behind him his mother came up to shake my hand and thanked me. She was impressed with how much her son had improved. I was shocked. It wasn’t the cookies that had my feel appreciated, even though they were delicious, but the thank you. The mom had taken a few seconds out of her busy day to come over to tell me just how grateful she was.
I don’t think she knows it but that insignificant act had a positive affect on me. It showed me how important a thank you really is. As a result of the experience I make an effort to show gratitude. I want to let other people know that there service is appreciated. Maybe it will change their outlook on a job.
Who ever came up with two small words probably never knew how significant they would become. When people take on the responsibility to be sincere and act on it every opportunity they have it can make another’s day a little bit better. Thank you is not just a common phrase but a powerful expression that can make all the difference, this I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.