Once upon a time, customer service wasn’t the “thinky” terms mish-mash it has come to mean. Now they train you, and it’s more than “be nice,” it’s say this at this time. You’ve dealt with it. Sometimes it is obvious, “Thank you for shopping at…” but sometimes it’s sinister like, “It’s my pleasure.”

Why sinister? Because it isn’t their pleasure, it’s just manipulation.

My pleasure? Really? It brings you pleasure to fetch me a chicken sandwich? To cut my unwashed hair? To clean a mixture of Doritos & Oreos out of from between my teeth? (If I have to wait to see a Dentist, I’m taking that time back). It diminishes the word, insults the receiver and soon, that term will rank alongside the “I’m fine” as something-we-say-but-no-one-means.

Why is that a problem? Because words lose their meaning over time when they get co-opted. When was the last time you heard “Hot” to describe something attractive? (Thank you Paris Hilton.)

Cool still lingers, “Dude” is lost somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains (Bill & Ted?). “Dapper” came back a bit during the mustachioed period, Groovy is still fun, but Rad died after being totally gagged with a spoon.

Another phrase is working down the charts? The unsupported-by-evidence “I appreciate you.”

Do you now? For what? What specifically have I done, that you have noticed, to warrant appreciation? Somewhere this became a substitute for “Thank you.” Which is another losing-meaning-at-the-speed-of-light pairing. It should always be the beginning of a longer sentence. “I appreciate you for the longer hours you’ve worked.” Not something thrown in at the end of a “reminder of my power” conversation to make up for the burns of coal on someone’s back and dispense the fumes from the bus now overhead. The “I appreciate you” that includes the tone that might as well be a wave of “You are dismissed, be gone.”

They’re quickly becoming as insincere as a mass-signed blank card. Nothing says “general use” like the blank card everbody signs around the same table. I really like it when it includes signatures from people that are no longer with the group sending it. Of coarse, it’s hard to tell because you can’t read people’s names, but at least someone thought enough to address the envelope.

I know, I’m grumpy… or maybe Eeore. But these words and gestures aren’t being replaced, just reduced. Genuine thanks, genuine appreciation, genuine sympathy, even genuine love seems “worth less” than it used to be… 146 people post “Happy Birthday” on your wall, impressive. A friend that drives 3 hours on their own birthday to attend your father’s funeral? Kicks the 20 second investment of a post into the abyss.

Remember a generation or two ago, love was too precious to speak. Thanks were handwritten and mailed, appreciation wasn’t bought in bulk and no one wore “I care, and you know that because I’m wearing a little pin that says so.” Feelings were shared in private, if spoken of at all.

Now it’s a button we click before we hit send.

And yet the world is still starving for it. Bringing pleasure, giving thanks, appreciation and love. Just as it was then, and it’s getting worse because then you could simply say it once and bring tears.

“Son, I’m proud of you.” Men my dad’s age would have given their I-teeth to hear that. It didn’t come cheap. They weren’t handed out like suckers at the bank – which by the way are now just sitting in a bowl, you lose thousands of dollars in investments and people have to reach for their own dum-dums? (Isn’t that ironic?)

Before long, love will be the thing you hear whenever a celebrity is talking about their fans… Oh wait. That already happens. Or it’s shouted at the point guard for bring home a championship… sorry, again, they get T-shirts. Or to describe coffee or cats, neither of which return the love. (BTW – I ❤ my Subaru!).

We waste so much power.

And words have tremendous power. A few years ago, a couple I knew were talking about their son-in-law. Both were in their late 80s. Both were charter members of their church. Both taught Sunday school. Neither cursed. They were as upstanding, kind, forgiving. The husband said a few things about the man that married his little girl. “I do not enjoy my time around him.” He also said, “I’ve never been satisfied with the way he treats my daughter.” He apologized for being judgmental. Then his wife, whom people already considered a saint added. “I think he’s an a–hole.”

Hilarious, unapologetic, filled with meaning – rare. That word held power for everyone in the room.

A long time ago, a people dang far away believed the name of God was so powerful, they dared not speak it. Now you hear “God—-” and “Jesus Christ” more often outside churches than in them.

So, here is my pledge. No more slothspoken words. No more lazy plattitudes. No automaton speech, and maybe it will change the world.

Thank you for reading this, it’s my pleasure to entertain. I appreciate you… Dang it!

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