Tag Archives: thank you notes

The Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes you need to have done something pretty dumb to remind you how great the people in Toronto are.

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How I relish the opportunity to write thank-you notes because of my silliness.

Today was the Track & Field Meet for our region of schools. While our school is wonderful in every way that is truly important, we are still growing in athletics – and we only had a handful of our students up for our regional meet. Along with a fabulous student teacher, I drove our kids from our downtown core to the east end.

And left my headlights on when we got there for our day-long meet.

Imagine our delight and pleasure, especially mine after a long day in the sun supervising teenagers, at finding their teacher “in charge” had so wisely emptied her car battery, leaving us stranded in Scarborough. And of course, I would front-end park – facing a nice, big curb, making it impossible for a car to make it close enough to give me a boost.

Still miraculously full of energy (or trying to avoid making it back to school in time for the last class), I heard suggestions of “pushing the car into the parking lot” so another car could get near enough to give me a boost – which would leave any teacher with more imagination any number of scenarios involving crushed children.

And who should save me but Mama and Papa Bear – I would need no more than a bashful phone call to explain that I needed a rescue but that they would hop into their truck to hope to jump a curb.

And of course, the kind soul owning the car – and a set of jumper cables – next to mine should appear, promptly offering to do a little hero work. Papa Bear’s prediction of having someone else rescue me before they arrived came true.

The most beautiful part was how this stranger tried to say it might not have all been my fault – one of the terminal things in the battery is loose, which might have caused some battery starting issues…

Within twenty minutes, I managed to inconvenience quite a few wonderful people with my absent-mindedness, and solve a crisis of my own making.

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The hand of a friendly stranger.

But I’m pretty glad that in Toronto, you can always count on people to help you out.

Thank You for Being Wonderful

The Art of a Thank You Note, or How to Write a Thank You Note

While some might argue that paper and writing and pens are becoming archaic (and what of the fountain pen!), I think everyone can agree that good manners in the form of a thank-you note will always be classy.

Nowadays, a handwritten note stands out all the more because it is so rare, and a handwritten thank you note is one small thing that keeps good will and gratitude flowing around our world.

There are all sorts of articles about the proper etiquette of what you can and can’t say, and the order of your sayings and all of that, but I think a thoughtful appreciation does the trick.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be personal and specific – simply saying “thank you for the gift” is wonderful, but all the more so when you can add a personal detail in it. Was there something about this gift that stood out or how you plan on using it that might interest the giver? For example, a student’s parent brought a hot lunch to the school for me:

Thank you so much for the biryani! It’s a rare and tasty thing to get such a delicious (and hot!) lunch in the middle of a busy day. Your daughter must be sure to learn your recipes!

2. Consider moments where a thank you note might be surprising and meaningful. Did a co-worker or friend give you some tough advice that made a difference in your thinking? Does your mailman or service person go out of his or her way for you? You might just make someone else’s day.

3. It’s never too late. While you might be embarrassed to give a thank-you note weeks or months after, people appreciate a hand-written note at any time. It might also potentially rekindle a relationship that has gotten distracted by our busy lives.

4. Use good paper and an inky pen. I’m not talking about high quality notepad paper, I’m talking about correspondence stationery and an envelope. I know I’m a retailer, so please take this with a grain of salt, but there is nothing more pleasing than a handwritten note on beautiful, textured paper. It speaks to the care and respect that the writer has taken.

5. Mail it! Unless it’s unreasonable (for example, you work with the person everyday and they have an office mailbox), a hand-addressed envelope is always a lovely surprise to find among the bills and flyers.

Other places to look:
C.S. Lewis & The Art of the Thank You Note
The Art of Manliness and the Art of Thank You Note Writing