Teeth showing at the utterance of "Thank You" or "Thanks" simply indicates the greater appreciation of having a favour passed onto you (or of evil intent glistening with every tooth and non-bleeding gum). A small sign and showing of politeness, it pushes down any notion of rudeness or ingratitude to continue the everyday churn of a civil society. Teeth, as always, are optional.
Where "Thank You" completes the agreement on the side of the recipient and acknowledges the effort for the deed, "You're welcome" is the postscript to the feedback loop. With it, a need for the person saying so to have a small reward in the addendum conversation trick.
The mere use of "You're welcome" supposedly rights a unspoken karmic balance between the two parties. A sign of good manners of those raised in such an atmosphere, it tilts the favour plane back into a position of even footing. Once again allowing for the next act of kindness to start on a fresh slate of gratitude.
Variants include, "My pleasure," "No problem," "Don't mention it," and "Happy to help." Each of these carry their own underlying seeds of second guessing the level of credit and trouble put forth. No matter the sincerity inherent, there is also the natural offsetting distrust.
Such courtesy has potential to offhand the delicate accord when the person replying to the reply with "No problem" backfoots the recipient into thinking on some minute level that if there was more than a jot of hassle beyond, or a bead of sweat more, it would not be nearly as cordial. That and to not press your luck for a next time.
"My pleasure," too unseats the power position into one of selfish altruism. For the sake of being in a position to help another and by the very act, releasing endorphins generated through outward goodwill toward others.
The problem of closing this social feedback loop in such a way is that it is a construct of regions and conditioning that falls apart to dumb looks when crossing borders and even languages. Saint Vitus' dance features less jerk and tick movements than the people expecting everyone else to know the game they play when they drop thanks.
As one custom sees its use as a neat and tidy way to sync the start to the end, another flails about as the ongoing conversation of nothing and thanks no longer is closed and instead becomes a gaping wound of social interaction. A circlewave of thanks that needs to die in order for the day to progress.
This is most apparent when facing a new clique or patient and hearing them repeat their thanks again and again. Each time with a little more leaning and a little more volume. Maybe even feigning croup for good measure. Their childhood and manners conditioning their ears to expect the preset echo back. To close out their part of the engagement.
Expecting a "You're welcome" in return for saying thanks is quite the impolite imposition.
Written on Sunday, 15 May 2011