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Two Tales of Gratitude Attitude

Two reader contributions today on the subject of expecting gratitude from those receiving our gifts of time and money.

Story Number 1….

I’m unsure of which category to put my story in. Possibly “The Gimme Pig that takes advantage of you had warned you first” applies. Amongst feelings of huge disappointment in these people and “if we hadn’t experienced this scenario- we wouldn’t believe it” kind of disillusionment, we also now feel foolish for ever thinking a huge favor would be appreciated.

We have family friends. She has always been a spoiled “princess” always complaining and nothing is ever good enough but the husband is an ok guy. (He does pander to her wants.) They had a huge yard job they wanted done which was beyond them. My husband does this work professionally so offered to do the work (in the name of friendship). He supplied the expertise, equipment, and labored all day. They were glad to have the work done, and when the friend’s husband asked what the cost was (I guess just to be polite and show he expected to give something) my husband told him it would normally cost $600+ but said a bottle of whiskey would cover it and they were ok with this. This has been a timeworn way of showing appreciation and covering favors done for and by us for many years, admittedly not involving this couple before and btw my husband owed them nothing!

Because my husband was working offshore we couldn’t get together for a month or so. But as soon as we could I invited them to dinner (two weeks in advance) and when they arrived, the friend’s husband said he didn’t have a bottle as the previous night a friend had visited and on offering him a drink and hearing his preference was whiskey…you guessed it! He opened the bottle he was going to give my husband! We were slightly embarrassed at his choice to tell us this and think it was ok so we just shrugged it off, along the lines of “we hope it tasted good!”  But at no stage did we say, “Don’t worry about it then.”

Who does this? In my world I wouldn’t. Good manners Choice Number 1: Say to the visitor the previous night, “Sorry, that’s a thank you gift for a good friend tomorrow,” and offer anything else…beer water…whatever. Number 2: If this WAS opened, the very least I’d do would be to get a replacement the next day to take to dinner that evening (bottle stores were open). Or Number 3, at the very least, after enjoying our hospitality, I would allow no further delay in SHOWING APPRECIATION and personally deliver a bottle of whiskey the very next day (or within the week AT THE ABSOLUTE LATEST) along with the words, “I’m sorry this took so long, your hard work was very appreciated by us and we want to make sure you know that.” That would have been thanks enough, but there has been absolutely NOTHING! Yes a Big Fat Nothing! We thought the friend’s husband (at least) was a guy who knew how to do the right thing but can only assume his wife considers having huge favors such as was done for them as their entitlement and has talked her husband round to her way of thinking. What are we supposed to think?

My husband’s reaction is to just say, “Well, that taught us huh?!”  But I am furious that a genuine nice guy (my husband) who has always been happy to help others and for whom a small gesture of appreciation is not too much to ask, has been taken for granted and TOTALLY UNAPPRECIATED. Some people say, that in such a case, just rise above it, never mention the situation again etc, but is there anything wrong with sticking up for GOOD MANNERS and APPRECIATION?! On so many levels, I would feel even more foolish by ignoring their behavior. It would be like saying, “It’s ok to show such disrespect for my husband,”…and its NOT! 0427-12

First, it would be speculating inappropriately that the man’s wife purposely schemed to deprive your husband of his due reward of whiskey.  There just isn’t any evidence to support that other than your belief that she is an entitled princess.

Second, one cannot demand appreciation from people.  Compelling someone to thank you will only yield a very insincere form of gratitude that you wouldn’t believe was genuine anyway.

Your husband has the right attitude.  It was an expensive lesson to learn but now you know to ignore all appeals for help from this couple.   You can rest assured that he did the right thing in being generous and gracious with his time and talents for the truly undeserving.

And Story Number 2…

Advice needed.  I am a stickler for thank you’s.

Hubby and I wouldn’t be seeing SIL on her actual birthday, rather for a combined family event almost three weeks after SIL’s 40th birthday. That being the case, we sent a generous gift to her home as well as a phone call on the day wishing her a wonderful birthday. That was over a week ago and she hasn’t even acknowledged the gift much less a thank you. I now know she did receive the gift as BIL emailed my hubby on another matter and mentioned that she received gift and call. Still nothing.

I want to say something at upcoming get together but not quite sure how to say or what to say without becoming the rude individual.

It’s only been a week?  Cut her some slack.   Who knows what is happening in her life right that you may not be aware of that that is distracting her from normal courtesies.   The only thing you might say upon visiting her is, “Did my gift arrive in time for you to enjoy it on your birthday?”  This gives her a conversational opening to acknowledge the gift.    But just like the previous contributor, you would be making a mistake to insist in some way that she express gratitude to you.   One has to be careful to not cultivate the perception that gifts from you are merely educational tools you will use to teach good manners to your heathen in-laws or that they come with strings attached.

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • Willa May 9, 2012, 10:01 pm

    Firstly as OP1 I appreciate the affirmative comments that the ingratitude shown for my husband’s generosity was indeed very poor form.Also to those who understood- that #1 the Whiskey was NOT a demand on our part for gratitude! It was offered as a thankyou. #2 The “offenders” appalling bad manners (whilst enjoying our hospitality) of announcing the whisky had been given to someone else!?! was hurtful beyond comprehension.
    Wowwow -“My first rection to the first OPs story was that the yard work was obviously not a generous offer between friends. If it was, you don’t care whether there was any show of appreciation shown back, especially something insignificant as a bottle of whiskey. You obviously wanted something in return for that work, so you should have just handed them the bill. If you cant do the work without payment or appreciation or thankyou of any kind, dont do it-charge them for it.”
    The work done by my HB WAS a generous act between friends.(In retrospect we see it involved just one!) He did not charge for it as we knew they couldnt afford to have it done commercially.
    Your reaction suggests that generosity between friends does NOT require appreciation. e.g. it can be taken for granted. I disagree. Even if done for a total stranger- appreciation could be expected for such a generous act.But even more so when involving friends- as appreciation in all its forms, is the basis of true friendship. This post misses completely the ACTUAL SIGNIFICANCE of the bottle of whiskey. Sure, in $ terms, especially in return for such a huge offer of help,its small. But heres what I (and obviously many others )have found in the swings and roundabouts of Life= It is A GESTURE OF APPRECIATION which does MATTER! By suggesting the whiskey, when asked what the recipient could do in return-HB was carrying out an age old custom of giving the other an OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THANKS = all parties are happy = the recipient’s pride is intact and the giver’s generosity is appreciated. Until this recent experience, this has always worked for us as givers and recipients of generous acts. And yes, while its true that the EP is/was not our favourite half of the couple- due to her abysmal ingratitude for her (now deceased) father’s generosity of time and labour for her & her HBs benefit, time had passed, and by my HB doing this work- we were hoping she’d learnt something of gratitude( in retrospect)….It seems not..as Ive since been told “they’d never had to give a gift of appreciation for anything her Father did for them ” So showing appreciation to Anyone for Anything just goes goes against the grain..obviously including my HB. Oh “but the whiskey WAS bought with him in mind! It just didnt get to HB..that’s all! No Need to Sweat Small stuff huh”?! I honestly dont think they realise or if they do- even care, they have lost our respect forever.
    Shoegal “They may still come through with the whiskey but it also seems they missed the OP’s deadline”
    This occurred several months ago now…and knowing they believe its ok to not follow through on their part, well we’re not waiting. Re the suggestion that” it also seems they missed OP’s deadline”- Surely true Ettiquette requires that where gratitude is appropriate- It should be EXPRESSED at the earliest possible opportunity.- Simply because decent, caring people would not want to leave anyone they care about-WONDERING?? By leaving it UNDONE INDEFINATELY it surely shows disrespect, unappreciation and really a Big Rude Gesture in its absence?

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