Thursday, September 12, 2013


"You don't need to thank me," he said, smiling, "I'm glad to do help."

In the second he said that I flashed back in time to a moment where I really wanted, needed, to thank someone who had made a difference in my life by making a difference in how I see myself. I began to thank her, and like the fellow today, she brushed my thanks away. It was important to her that I knew that she didn't do what she did to garner my gratitude or my thanks, she had done what she had done because it was the right thing to do AND because she, too, was glad to help. I've thought about that a lot over the years. On of my chief regrets is that I didn't actually get the chance to say thank you to her, in a way she understood my meaning, before she died.

Like everyone else, I can have that kind of intense memory in a millisecond, and I was back in the conversation that was happening now, the one that started with me saying, 'Thank you, really, thank you.' I had meant what I said. I was prompted out of my need to say it, not his expectation of hearing it. I said to him, "You may not need me to thank you, but I need to thank you. So, again, thanks."

I could see him struggle with what had happened, he really didn't see that thanks were necessary. But then he doesn't see the world from my eyes. He doesn't know that what was natural for him to do, isn't natural for others. He doesn't know that the attitude with which he dealt with my need in the moment of need, isn't one that I experience often. He doesn't see out of my eyes, he doesn't hear out of my ears, he would not know that his time and his help were given in such a way as to be noteworthy.

He doesn't know that when I'm thanking him, when I'm saying 'thank you,' I mean 'thank YOU.' The YOU that was glad to do it, the YOU who doesn't think a thanks is necessary. More often these days I'm not thanking people for the help I get but for how the help was given. More often these days I'm thanking people's attitude and character not the physical act of helping.

He was gracious and accepted the thanks.

"You don't need to thank me" Um sometimes I actually do have a need to thank. And, as I get older, I find it's as legitimate a need as any other.

I felt like I should have thanked him for letting me thank him ... but I think that would have been too much for him - and it was enough just to have my 'thank you' accepted, my need met.


B. said...

Thank you.

theknapper said...

I think we need to pay more attention to thank yous that are just a little bit different, abit deeper, that change would benefit both people, creating connection and a understanding that being heard/seen is so powerful.

Kristine said...

I'm taking my cues from you on being mindful about my thank-yous...

After being stuck in the house for weeks with my broken chair, it finally got fixed yesterday. (!!!) The tech who came out and fixed it was great. He recognized everyone else's mistakes that had got me into this situation, and brought both his own expertise and empathy to the table, and finally got me up and running. I thanked him profusely and sincerely.

About an hour after he left, a woman from the office called to double-check that everything had gone well, and that I was satisfied. Sounds like a nice gesture, but she's the one who'd been throwing up roadblocks the entire time, not caring at all, and making the whole situation worse than it had to be. Thanks to her, I would likely still be stuck for a few more weeks, if my dad hadn't made a series of hell-raising phone calls. (He has a voice you don't argue with. I sound like a timid little girl, and usually end up crying. So I let him take over!) When her phone call came, sounding like she was seeking the gushing gratitude, I gave a polite thank you. I also acknowledged what a long, terrible road it was getting here, so she doesn't think I've forgiven and forgotten. But I was courteous.

Then I looked up the contact info for the company that makes the chair and its parts. I've never met them in person, so I've never really said anything to them, but in cases like this, they are incredible about saying "Yeah, this part usually takes a week to prepare and ship, but that does sound like an emergency situation, so we'll get it done right now, today." They got an email with gushing thanks. It's a small company, but they build an absolutely incredible chair, and they treat their clientele with respect. That deserves some gushing! (They also deserve to be named... The company is 21st Century, and their website is Seriously, fantastic chairs. I refuse to ever consider anything else!)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Kristine, I'm so glad you are mobile again! Enjoy your freedom again.