Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chocolate is the highest form of manners

posted Fri, 06 Aug 2004

It was a sign from God, I’m sure. I walked into the Godiva Chocolatier and they were having a sale. A sale! On chocolate! How lucky could I get? I filled a bag with chocolate bars and heaved it onto the counter. I use them as bribes for the customer service reps in the factories I work with. I have no authority over them – three to four reps per factory, 70 factories – so I rely on the carrot rather than the stick when I need them to do things for me.

Why was I in the Godiva store in the first place, you ask? I had a mission. I can’t reveal the details, but suffice it to say that I usually take a hostess gift with me when I visit someone. In this case, the gift will have to be sent post visit because I didn’t have my act together pre visit.

There are certain things that are nice and polite to do when you visit someone. One of them is to take a small gift. Flowers or candy are usually appropriate – or perhaps an Elvis clock with swinging legs. It really depends on the recipient.

Another nice thing is to write a thank-you note. I am quite relieved that in my circle of friends, the art of thank-you note is still alive, although I hear that in the general public, it is deader than a doornail. My friend Heather earned my mother’s immediate respect and appreciation at the beginning of my sophomore year of college after a group of us went to San Antonio for Labor Day weekend. My mom made pancakes for breakfast and chalupas for supper and in general, put up with the hassle of having six college students camped out in her house for two days. Heather was the only one who wrote a thank-you note. (You didn’t think I remembered that, did you, Heather?)

Harpo impressed me when I learned he had sent a thank-you note to Steve and Mary Ann after we had Thanksgiving dinner at their house. He didn’t even ask me for their mailing address – figured it all out for himself.

When I didn’t get a note from my cousin Eve after I had a wedding present sent to her (order online!), I knew that either she had not received the present or something had gone wrong with the thank-you note. Eve was raised right. I asked my aunt if Eve had gotten anything – I was going to raise Cain with HomeDepot.com if they had taken my money but not sent the gift card (hey! It’s what she wanted!). Turns out Eve had put the wrong address on the thank-you note. It went to Florida then back to Colorado before it got to me.

But I’m afraid I have some harsh words for some other people. One person in particular is not a relative or a close friend, but I still got a baby present for him when he and his wife had their first child. Now, I think if you bother to go out and spend money and wrap something in pretty paper and take it to the recipient, either in person or by standing in line at the Post Office in the four hours a week you can actually get to the PO because of course they are not open during the hours I am not at work, then that recipient should write a little thank-you note.

It’s not hard. My friend Lauren writes lovely thank-you notes. She thanks the giver, then mentions something she particularly likes about the gift, and then says something wonderful about the giver. They are the sort of notes that make you want to give her another present for her very cute baby.

Ilene writes great notes, too. Lenore always finds a cute card and has taught Jill and Brad, her very cool kids, to draw and then to write thank-you notes as well. People – this is NOT HARD!!!

But this person sent an email thank you (which is appropriate in some circumstances but not in this one). To everyone on our team. At once. It was sort of a thank-you spam. He did not mention any specific gifts. He didn’t even use our names, except in the address field.

This is not someone I am going to be buying anything for in the future.

Yes, yes, I know that the gift should be given freely with no expectation of any sort of recognition, but it is just good manners to say thank you in a nice way. I say that as someone who was tied to my chair after birthdays and Christmas – under orders to write thank-you notes to grandparents and any other parties before I actually played with any toys – but now I am glad that my parents had the good sense to give me good home training.

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