Austin, Death and Being Human


“Thank you!” How often do you say those two words…and actually mean it? And I mean really mean it.  Not the assumed, “Here’s your coffee” followed “thanks” while not looking at the person and walking out the door.

I was recently in Austin, TX and let me tell you, those folks are amazing.  I was overwhelmed by those working in the stores and restaurants.  They asked questions and were really interested in the answer.  I’m so used to being the Bay Area where a natural response to “Hi, how are you?” is “Hi, I’m fine.  How are you?” but not meaning it because I (or the other person) is walking out the door while answering it. It was uncomfortably reassuring that they wanted a real answer.  Weird that it was uncomfortable, right? Why should it feel so awkward to have someone ask me how I am and mean it?

This past weekend I was in Detroit for my Auntie Joan’s funeral.  One thing that she was known for was her kindness towards others which was shown in hand written notes.  She’d write a note to say hi, happy birthday and, as I found out this weekend, to congratulate my cousin for the birth of their son.  What was funny was that she was so fast to write a congratulations note that she wrote “Welcome baby Cormac!”  By the time the card arrived, my cousins had renamed their son to Kiernan 🙂  She was just that fast!  But the important thing to remember is that she took the time to write a note to someone rather than texting or emailing.  She took the time to show her appreciation for a new nephew and to congratulation my cousins by finding a card, writing a note, addressing it, finding a stamp and them putting it on the envelope and finally mailing it.  There was much more involved that just opening up email, writing a few words and hitting send.  She made it personal.

At the end of the day, we’re all human.  We want others to notice when we have done well.  We need constant feedback that we’re on the right track and we want to feel appreciated.  We like to hear “thank you” but only when it’s genuine.

As we, in the States, get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, thank you!  Thank you for reading my blog, thank you for forcing me to write and thank you for your interest. If I had all of your mailing addresses, I’d send you a note.

I challenge you all in the next week to compliment someone, even if it’s just a thank you, but really mean it.  Make eye contact, say it sincerely and see the response you get.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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2 Responses

  1. I still send handwritten thank you notes. My mama taught me that it was proper to send thank you notes, and I am thankful that she did. On occasion I have even sent a thank you note to an interviewer.

    I’ve sorry for your loss.

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