ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Depreciation of Gratitude

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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.

Uggg!

Arrg!

Frazzle Fart!!

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.

Get inventive.

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. 


12 comments :

  1. I want to thank you so much for posting this, since I do agree with you. I really appreciate it. :)(smiley face since I don't have the icon).

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  2. I actually heard violins in the background as I read this.

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  3. Get off my lawn, thank you very much!

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  4. Get off my lawn, thank you very much!

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  5. Call me silly (and I know you will) but I rather like thank you in all of its incarnations. beats all hell out of another non-committal grunt as a response. Easily trounces the half-no of acknowledgement. Manners, Wes. I like manners! Let them be Ironic or sarcastic or even a little douchey, but I'll take any variation of Thank You over the standard silence or blank face that so many people offer these days. And i'll like it even better if the person saying Thanks actually manages a smile. I'll do you one better. ANY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION IS A PLUS. "Good Morning. How are you today?" Should not be answered "Large black coffee." And when it is, I normally respond with "I too am large black coffee. What can I get for you?" Just so I can see the puzzled looks on their semi-conscious faces. smile emoticon

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  6. Your post worked just fine, Jim.

    Its' not a matter of showing appreciation or manners. It's a matter of people using lazy language or just being lazy. Jim knows I have manners. No where in my essay did it say not to thank someone. That's not the issue at all. Do they really want to thank you so very very much? No. They're just saying the max so they can move on. Either way, Jim, they're acknowledging you as a human. I'm just asking that people consider that there's a difference between opening a door for someone and saving a life. Don't you think the response to each of those should be different?

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  7. Funny you should post a topic like this. I was just ranting the other day about how over used lowering our flag to half staff is becoming. It seems like every other day we are lowering our flag for someone, anyone, who has died.

    I can appreciate the gesture of respect, but this ultimately dilutes the effect of the action. How about we reserve this for something a little more important than a local politician.

    Thank you........thankyouverymuch! #Elvis

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  8. I get what you mean. Someone did an awesome favor for me recently - not rescue a child or pet, but ... major. I said thank you but added, thank you sounds so trite, but I really appreciate what you did. Usually I just say thank you or I appreciate it. I think half our society is tired and burned out from stressful job, so they can't muster the energy beyond "thank you very much."
    Barbara of the Balloons

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  9. But what if you say "Thank you very much" in a bad Elvis impression voice? That's ALWAYS appropriate, isn't it?

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