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You Should Apologize For Being Polite

, , , | Right | November 27, 2019

(I work at a small credit union in town. Recently, we’ve hired a few new employees. One of my friends is the daughter of someone who was a long-time employee of this credit union years before I started working there. My friend asks me who the new employees are; she tells me one has been rude whenever she comes to the drive-thru, and I manage to deduce who she’s talking about. I assure her that the employee is very friendly around me, though, and I ask her how she was rude, but I never get a straight answer. I think that is the end of it, until a couple of months later when the same friend is complaining about the new employee again.)

Friend: “Who is that new employee who works drive-thru?”

Me: “Well, we all work drive-thru, so you’re going to have to be more specific. What does she look like?”

Friend: “She wears glasses and has short hair.”

Me: “Well, I know [Employee #1] wears glasses, but she has long hair. [Employee #2] has short hair, but I didn’t think she wore glasses.”

Friend: “Well, whoever she was, she is always very rude!”

Me: “Really? How so? What does she do?”

Friend: “She never smiles! I’m always so friendly, and she never smiles or is friendly back!”

Me: “Really? Oh. I mean, sometimes it looks like I’m not smiling, especially if I’m concentrating on getting the details of the transaction correct, so maybe she’s just trying hard?”

Friend: “No, that’s not it. I was just in there last week, and she was just so rude!”

Me: “Well, what specifically did she do to be rude to you? Did she yell or something?”

Friend: “She said, ‘You’re welcome.’!”

Me: “I’m sorry? She said what?”

Friend: “’You’re welcome.’”

Me: “Okay…”

Friend: “Yeah! I couldn’t believe it!”

Me: “I don’t get it.”

Friend: “I was depositing, she gave me the receipt, I said, ‘Thank you,’ and she said, ‘You’re welcome.’”

Me: “Okay… I mean, that’s usually the correct response to ‘thank you,’ so I don’t see what the problem is.”

Friend: “She shouldn’t say, ‘You’re welcome,’ she should say, ‘Thank you.’”

Me: “Okay, but I mean, ‘You’re welcome’ seems like a perfectly acceptable response.”

Friend: “No, it’s not! I am a customer of her business. She should be thanking me!

Me: *now understanding* “Okay, I can see that. When I am finished with a transaction, I usually say, ‘Thank you,’ or, ‘Have a good one,’ or, ‘See you later,’ but…”

Friend: “I just couldn’t believe it! She really needs to be trained better!”

(She was in the banking industry for 20+ years before joining us; I think she’s doing just fine.)

Me: “Okay. I mean, I can talk to her, but I was taught from a very young age that when someone says, ‘Thank you,’ you say, ‘You’re welcome.’ But I can see where a ‘thank you’ could also be warranted. I just don’t see it as a big deal.”

Friend: “Yeah, you talk to her. My mother would have always said, ‘Thank you.’”

(The next time I work, I don’t work with the “you’re welcome” perpetrator, but I do work with the head teller. I decide to tell her this — what I thought to be slightly funny — complaint.)

Me: “You know [Friend], [Friend’s Mother]’s daughter? She comes in a lot, usually in drive-thru.”

Head Teller: “Yeah, what about her?”

Me: “She complained about [Employee #2] because she said, ‘You’re welcome,’ when [Friend] said, ‘Thank you.’”

Head Teller: “What? I don’t get it…”

Me: “I didn’t, either. Apparently, she wanted her to say, ‘Thank you,’ because, and I quote, ‘She should be thanking me!’ Since she’s a customer of our credit union, we should be thanking her for her business. Which, I mean, I get it, but I don’t think it’s rude to say, ‘You’re welcome,’ as a response to ‘thank you.’ [Employee #2] performed a service, [Friend] thanked her for her service, and [Employee #2] said, ‘You’re welcome.’”

Head Teller: “Yeahhhhh, no. I’m not taking that complaint anywhere. What does she want her to do, apologize for being polite?”

(I haven’t heard anything from any of my coworkers or my friend about this subject again, so maybe that’s the last time.)

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