Few of us live scripted lives.
For instance, tonight I spent approximately 20 minutes staring at my screen, thinking about what to write on thankfulness. In that time I eked out the short opening sentence you see above.
There was also pumpkin bread in the oven and laundry in the dryer. It was a busy week in the laundry room (three broken washers), so I’d been making lots of trips. At the end of my last laundry trip, I noticed a huge puddle of water seeping from under the door of the apartment across the hall and spreading rapidly (read: before my eyes). After dropping off my laundry and taking my bread out of the oven—I thought—I knocked on our neighbor’s door.
Polina is small woman with high cheekbones, a broad smile, and a red walker. Her knowledge of English is better than my knowledge of Russian, but not by much.
She opened her door, and I pointed at the water—saying something profound to the effect of,
Exclaiming, she scurried back into her apartment. I entered in time to see water spilling from a sinkful of dirty dishes. It seemed she’d become distracted by her movie and forgotten to turn off the faucet.
I fetched some towels and helped her sop up water from all over her pale-wood laminate floors, moving carpets, reaching under furniture, and emptying the closet. She worked vigorously, rushing around with a towel larger than her, wringing it into a bucket, and hustling to move chairs and bags from one room to the next. I helped, but she worked hardest.
When we finished and everything was at least just damp and mostly drying, she straightened to her full 4’ 10”, looked up at me, and thanked me profusely.
“Sank you very much. Visout you I vould hef—how do you say in English? Dite in ze vater?”
Then she gave me three slices of coffee cake and sent me on my way, wet towels in one hand and plate of dessert in the other. I came home, thought I smelled something burning, and realized I never took my bread out of the oven.
Polina will probably soon forget my name, that I helped her, even this incident of her wet little apartment.
But I’m likely to remember her repeated thankfulness for a long time—sank you for helping me, as we bent side by side, dredging water from under the table. Sank you as I emptied her closet and she moved the small rugs into her bathtub, Sank you as we rang water from towels and filled bucket after bucket.
She thanked me for doing work she was doing alongside of me. Humbling.
Your thank-you’s may not mean much to you, but they will mean a lot to the recipient. Thank sincerely, profusely.