I've been bothered for some time about the depreciation of gratitude in America. My wife says I'm overthinking things, and she's probably right like she is most of the time, but words matter, dammit.
Words mean something. And some words if you use them too much, cease to have the impact or gravitas for which they were created.
"What am I talking about?" you ask.
"What are you driveling about, Mr. Ocheesy?" comes from the cheap seats.
It's the overuse of Thank you very much. And it's done so dramatically too, as if the speaker might think they're being recorded for Facebook Live or Youtube which might get watched by a Hollywood producer or director. Next thing he or she knows, they've gone from expressing extreme gratitude for the absolutely smallest amount of effort to appearing on a reality TV show and signing endorsement deals for lattes. Thank you so very much, he says breathlessly, careful that the 15 megapixel camera on his iPhone gets his good side.
Insert eye roll here.
"Is that it, Mr. Ocheesy? Is that what you're babbling about?"
Yes, thank you very much. (See, here it was used sarcastically, so it's fine)
Thank you very much. I see and hear it everywhere.
A barista hands a young girl her Trenta five shot half-caf pumpkin spice latte with no foam at 210-degrees, slightly bent, eyes imploring, seeking the connection and says, Thank you very much.... or worse.... thank you so very much.
A woman on an airplane gets handed her too-heavy piece of carry-on luggage from the overhead storage and smiles wanly in her best Katherine Hepburn as she says, Thank you very much.
A man who has the door held open for him by a young lady holding a Trenta Iced Green Tea No Syrup Splash of Cold Soy Milk in one hand and bows saying, Thank you very much.
I've seen it all. I can't go a day without hearing thank you very much five or six times.
"Why is this an issue, Mr. Ocheesy?"
Here's why it's a big deal. What do you say to someone who pulls your child out of the way of a speeding truck? Thank you very much? Congratulations. You've just given the level of thanks equal to getting a cup of coffee. I know. It's not your fault. You're not the one walking around thanking everyone very much about every single thing ever done to them (or maybe you are).
What do you say when you discover that someone found your purse and returns it with all your money and cards inside?
What do you say when you discover that someone helped your grandma out when she became disoriented in Wal-Mart by calling you.
I'd normally say, Thank you very much, but because of the gross misuse of the words, in order to express the appropriate level of appreciation, I now have to add several qualifying words and end up saying, I want to say thank you very much, but what you did was so much more than holding a door open or getting down luggage or accepting the Fat-Free Iced Caramel Macchiato Upside Down Extra Caramel you ordered from the cross-eyed barista, so let me express instead my extreme thanks to you and much appreciation for your above and beyond the call of duty actions.
"But Mr. Ocheesy, why is it a bad thing that America is becoming more polite?"
The fact is that they aren't. America is as impolite as they've always been. Thank you very much is a smokescreen. People are just throwing the words out there without thought. I can see the blankness in their eyes, their false expressions. They're just being lazy. They're a hunter shooting squirrels with a 50 caliber sniper rifle. They're a long haul trucker hauling a single box. They are giving the maximum gratitude for minimal effort, thus depreciating the sentiment.
Let's do something together.
Let's take back our gratitude.
Let's use words like thanks and thank you and I appreciate it and much obliged. You can even deliver your appreciation in a more worldly style, using such terms as arigato and gracias. Even a delivery of many thanks is better than the now uber-common throw away appreciation, thank you very much.
Words mean something.
Create new ways of expressing your gratitude, because only Elvis had permission to say thank you very much and he's dead.
Let's express the appropriate level of gratitude for the effort put forth, unless you're being sarcastic, then thank you very much is often the most appropriate sentiment.
So, thank you so very much for reading this.