My mother was a very attractive woman when she was younger. A lot of people literally thought she was a model. But she has pretty much always been involved in the ‘domains of men’. She grew up being a farmhand, she entered the Air Force when she was 18, and spent most of her adult life working as an aircraft mechanic. Because she was a woman, she’s constantly had to do twice the work to receive the same recognition her male colleagues did. This was made even worse by the fact that she was a very good looking, blonde woman of Swedish heritage. The stereotype of the ‘dumb blonde’ followed her everywhere, so she would always have to make sure that when she met new people in her work, she knew what she was talking about, so that she could overcome their initial preconceptions.
The one thing she told me that always struck was this: “Being good-looking might get you in the door, but once you’re in there, you sure as shit better have something to say.”
I was about ten. My mom had just finished creating one of her amazing meals, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Delicious. Later, as I was washing the dishes, my mom came up to me. “Sorry dinner was so awful again,” she said.
I was shocked. “What? No, it was great. I loved it.”
“Really?” she said, with mock surprise. “You always eat so quietly, never saying anything. You’ve never told me you liked my cooking, so I thought you hated it.”
“No, you’re the best cook I know.”
“Then you should tell me that,” she said. “Whenever someone does something nice for you, you should thank that person. If you don’t, then she might think she’s not appreciated and stop doing those nice things.”
Something clicked right then. From that day forward, I thanked everyone for literally everything. If you did something that even vaguely helped me, I thanked you profusely. It became a habit, something I didn’t even think about, and that’s when the magic started happening.
People liked me more. They talked to me more, shared with me, were more friendly. In my first year of high school, during the final week I came home and found a giant freezie waiting for me. “Thanks, mom,” I said instinctively.
“This isn’t from me, she said. “This is from your bus driver.” He had been driving that bus for years, and my siblings and I were the first person to ever thank him as we got dropped off. Those two simple words made a huge difference, so much so that he went out of his way to tell our mom and give us a present.
That’s the power of appreciation. When you have it, all is right in the world, but when it’s missing life is empty. My mom taught me many things, but taking two seconds to say ‘thank you’ every time, in any situation, was the best.
Edit 1: A ‘freezie’ is a type of frozen snack, similar to a slushie or a popsicle. It’s basically frozen sugar water, and it’s one of the most common treats when it’s really hot out here in Canada.
Edit 2: I’m amazed at all the feedback I’ve received. So many people have commented, some sharing similar stories, others just saying thank you. It’s blown me away, honestly, and it’s humbling. I can’t thank everyone individually, as that would take forever, so I’ll have to do it collectively: thank you everyone who has upvoted and commented. It means a lot; it really does.