Why is it that we think we are entitled to a “thank you”?
I mailed a parcel to a lady that I thought was my friend a while back. We have known each other for many years and have shared many coffees, bike rides and laughter’s. Even the occasional tear or two. Naturally, we have not seen each other for several years, as we live in different countries. Yet, she is close to my heart, and I often think of her and then I reach out to her by email… to just get no response, feel miserable for a while, feel better again, and the in a couple months, repeat.
This time round I made her a parcel since I heard from another friend that she is experiencing some change in her life and that things are a bit difficult at the moment for her. So, I made her parcel with a couple things that I thought would have some meaning for her. UPS can be quite expensive, but I really wanted to do this for her. Spending the money was not that hard and I was waiting in anticipation for the parcel to be delivered. When the notification came that it was delivered, I found myself checking my email obsessively and even my mailbox. I even checked her address with a friend to make sure I had it correctly…. And as the days pass, with no word from her, so did it dawn on me: Why did I think she had to thank me for something I did out of me own free will. She did not ask me to send her a package. In fact, she has very definitely been ignoring emails from me for the past couple of years. The parcel might have been an embarrassment, or a bad memory lane event, or just not appropriate at the time. I thought the parcel was thoughtful and obviously put together with love and care… But that is my personal interpretation of my gift and my actions. Someone else might have experienced it completely different.
And so, I ask again: Who said I was entitled to a Thank you?
We are brought up with the notion that if someone give us something, we say thank you, because we are polite, and it is the norm. But just because it is the norm, it does not make it mandatory right? I even say thank you to the cop who fines me for driving to fast. Why do I thank him for a $100 ticket? Because I was brought up with the notion to say thank you when someone give me something.
Maybe my little parcel was like a traffic ticket to my friend. And maybe she had enough guts to say: You know what, I did not ask for this gift, I do not want it, and I am not saying Thank You for some insensitive thing I did not ask for….
Well, whatever the case may be, and however long I ponder about it… a Thank You would have been nice. Not because I deserve a thank you, or that my intention with sending the parcel was to get a thank you. Purely because it is the decent thing to do. It is not really about the thank you as it is about begin acknowledged for caring. I obviously care much more for this person than this person cares for me. I know, if I received a parcel through the mail, regardless of whether I like the gift or not, I would have acknowledged the gesture with an immediate thank you note. Maybe that is why I am hurt, I measure against what I would have done. While in reality, I am not entitled to a thank you.