Whatever Happened to "You're Welcome?" / by Anyika Mcmillan-Herod

Is it just me or has society forgotten how to use the term “You’re welcome?” Just turn on the radio and catch an interview on NPR, watch an interview on one of the many daytime talk shows, or better yet, tell someone you know, “Thank You” and wait for the inevitable response of this new millennium – “Thank YOU” or better yet, “Thank YOU, so much.”

What’s up with that?

It’s so common now and I just want to know what happed to “You’re welcome.” I miss it. Did parents stop teaching their children proper etiquette or maybe we can blame it on our schools? Or maybe it’s just a result of our society’s “one-up” ways. You know what I mean. Have you ever joined a frenzied concert crowd in screaming “I love you!” to a pop star performing on stage and have them yell back, “I love you more!”?

What's that all about?

No, don’t say “You love me more." The proper response is “Thank you.” And then our reply should be, “You’re welcome.” Right? Right!

By not using this term, we are leaving millions of conversations open; floating out in the ether somewhere taking up space. “You’re welcome” offers a true conclusion, a finale and gives you the right to walk away. To move on to something else. “Thank you” leaves one (even if it’s just me) feeling some kind of way. I think it’s pretty darn snarky to respond to “Thank you” with another “Thank you.” I think it’s less evolved. And is some ways dare I say, asinine.

I can prove it to you:

I’m in Mexico City and I say GRACIAS to a lovely person who opens the door for me. And their reply?….DE NADA, not GRACIAS because that would sound silly.

Here’s another example:

I’m in Sengal (‘cause I ain’t going to Paris) and I say JE VOUS REMERCI to a delightful person who serves me a delicious plate of fish. And their reply?….DE RIEN, not JE VOUS MERCI because that is ridiculous.

Now, I could go on and on but I think you get my point.

The exchange must end properly and with mutual respect. Not in some silly competitive way. This new expression of gratitude does not allow for an appropriate exchange of energy. It’s like a one night stand instead of a honeymoon. It’s not true reciprocity.

If you don’t believe me, just take a day to listen to conversations and maybe even have one of your own. Tell someone “thank you” and see what you get back. And note how it makes you feel.

Now, please forgive me for this Andy Rooney moment I’m having, but this has been gnawing at my craw for some time and I’m sincerely curious if it bothers anyone else. Perhaps, it’s just me. Maybe I’m just old fashioned. Or maybe I’m a purist when it comes to an exchange of thoughts and energy with another human being. Regardless, it bothers me. And trust, there’s a long list of things that bother me about the world we live in right now (a whole lotta things I love, too) but I just want to know. DOES. ANYONE. KNOW. WHAT. HAPPENED. TO. YOU’RE WELCOME?!

Someone out there, please find the answer. I promise to say “Thank you” and I hope your reply will be a hearty “You’re welcome.”