A friend of mine, OP, is in the habit of saying “thank you” too often than required. Even though it irritates the gang, he’ll say it over and over to whoever renders even a bit of service to him. I would also ridicule him, until on a business trip with him for 15 days, I discovered the magic of those two words.
I picked him up from his house on way to the railway station from where we were to start our journey. He came out of his house thanking his wife, children and servants lined up at the gate to bid him farewell. They had tears in their eyes. His saying “thank you” had created an emotional storm. When the coolie placed his luggage on the compartment floor, OP thanked him profusely, in his usual style, and paid him what he had asked for. The porter bowed in respect and offered to place all the pieces of luggage properly under the seat and on the rack. He did it with a smile and didn’t leave until we were settled.
The train moved on and my friend ordered meal. After we had finished our food and made the payment, OP told the caterer who had served us: “Thank you, bhaiya, excellent service.” The bearer felt so elated that he rushed back into the pantry car to bring us complimentary curd and chilled water. Then he stood there waiting on us. “Anything else, Sir?” he asked. I was overwhelmed.
In Bengaluru, we hired an auto-rickshaw to get to a street. The driver dropped us on a main road instead. OP paid him the fare, thanked him for his service, and said it’d be kind if he could give us directions to the street, if he knew. Leaving his vehicle on the road, the man walked 500 yards with us into the lanes until he had located the address for us. On many occasions in those 15 days, OP got the best of favours from all, just for saying two magical words. It pays to be humble, I realised, and it costs nothing.
I am reminded of a scene from the 1973 Hindi movie ‘Namak Haraam’ in which Somu, played by Rajesh Khanna, tells his friend, played by Amitabh Bachchan: “Address the worker by his name, Vicky. The poor guy will sell himself for you.” It is rewarding indeed to keep the dignity of labour.
The writer is an Ambala-based freelance contributor.