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Attitude 101: A Simple Thank You Reduces Road Tension

thumbs up driving thank you

(Thumbs up as a sign of thank you instead of the middle finger is always welcomed on a stressful drive home, more so after doing a good deed instead of being a nuisance to fellow road users. Image source: Pinterest)

How many times you have said “Thank You” to someone else today, two days ago, a week ago or a month ago?

Let me illustrate 2 incidents that happened last week as I was in Tesco doing my usual weekend shopping.

1. I had to buy a small bulb for the altar at home, so I headed towards the electrical section. I took the smallest bulb on the shelf and screwed it to the testing panel and pressed on the test button. Nothing happened. I thought I must have taken a faulty bulb. At that moment, I sensed someone standing next to me.

It was an elderly man, holding a bulb of his own, waiting for me to finish the test. He noticed my predicament and smiled. He held the bulb and properly turned the bulb in and asked me to test again. This time, the bulb light up without fail. I turn to the elderly man and thanked him. He simply nods his head and smiled.

2. We then moved to the household cleaning section where in front of me was a man, just slightly older than me, pulling (instead of pushing) the shopping trolley.

He was looking at the items on the shelves and was not looking at his shopping trolley. It was not long before trolley got stuck on some items stacked on the floor. Perhaps the fact that this man was pulling his trolley should have indicated something.

Instead of stopping and untangling, this man simply kept pulling the trolley, achieving nothing but causing a small “traffic jam” along the shopping lane. I took hold of the trolley and helped him to untangle it. To my surprise, he then just kept pulling his trolley and continued with his shopping. No murmur of thank you, no smiles, no nods, nothing whatsoever to acknowledge the help.

At most part, I don’t really expect others to say thank you when I do others a favour – sometimes I hardly give it a thought too. At times, by helping others, I am helping myself too (like the incident No. 2 above, by helping to untangle the trolley, the so-called traffic was dispensed and it was easier to push my own trolley away). For other times, I am pretty sure that my “karma will take note of my good deeds.

But think about it for a second. Someone do you a favour (it does not matter what the underlying motives are) but nothing is done to acknowledge the favour. It is as if it is your solemn duty to help these people. Yes, it may be trivial for some. For others, that very act may be considered as arrogant and rude.

In one of the questions raised in the popular magazine, The Reader’s Digest several months ago, a columnist said that one of the important subjects that need to be taught in schools would be the subject of courtesy.

Yes, we may have “Pendidikan Moral” in our schools but are the lessons in good morals left aside once we left school? Sometimes it does seems so especially when you see how some drivers behave themselves on the road – queue jumping, road hogging, tailgating, etc.

But there are some fine exceptions – where there is traffic at the junction and the driver puts up his hand, requesting leeway to cut into the main traffic and once done, puts up his hand again, thanking the other driver who has slowed down. That happened once where no one slowed down to allow the other lane to cut in (despite the driver on the other lane has put up his indicators).

I saw the long queue at the back and I slowed down to allow a couple of cars to cut in. Despite the stressful driving, I felt happy when one of the drivers who managed to cut in after I slowed down, put his thumbs up, thanking me on my act.

Acknowledgement promotes more to help others more frequently and is one good booster if you ask me – a simple gesture of “thanking someone”. Perhaps a lack of acknowledgement is what makes others look the other side when help is needed.

3 thoughts on “Attitude 101: A Simple Thank You Reduces Road Tension”

  1. I remember a story my late grandmother told me about her mother (yes, my late great-grandmother). Something that happened many years ago. One day, my late grandmother visited a clinic and after seeing the doctor and collected her medicine, she, who was alone, waited for a taxi at a stand next to the clinic. Being a busy day, there was no taxis available and after waiting for about 15 minutes, there came a young Mat Salleh (he must have been attached to the RAF near our kampong) who stopped his car and offered my late great-grandmother a lift home. She accepted the offer and got into the car and the Mat Salleh, not knowing a single word of Malay, was given directions using sign language and there was no problem there. Upon reaching home and before alighting, my late great-grandmother stared puzzlingly at the very kind and polite Mat Salleh because she wanted to say something to him but she didn’t remember the words. If she had said it in Malay, the Mat Salleh may not understand her, she thought. The Mat Salleh was a little confused with that puzzling stare from an old woman but he waited for her anyway. After a couple of minutes, she shouted ‘TANK U’ quite loudly and upon hearing that, the man smiled broadly and returned her greetings with, ‘Sama-sama Grandma’ and he then drove on. He must have felt very pleased and happy for having done an old woman a favour. God bless their souls.


    1. I am pretty sure that the Mat Salleh would have remembered your late great grandmother for a long time…all for a simple word of “thank you”

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