‘ve been thinking about this for a while. The wife and I watch a lot of Japanese shows on the various streaming sources (and not just anime). The thing that always catches my attention is the formalized respect that people pay to one another in Japan. If they are wrong (or shamed) they bow. And they mean it. It’s always a formal thanks or apology to the person being honored.
Of course, in America, it’s a little more… informal. if you do a heroic deed for someone, they will offhandedly throw off a “thanks”. Or maybe buy you lunch (if you gave them a kidney, perhaps). But it’s always sloppy and off-hand, if not simply implied, and it doesn’t feel like much at all. Americans feel that “heroes” simply wave off thanks and respect. “Just doing my job, Ma’am”. Whatever.
Recently I got pulled into two desperate orbits (which I voluntarily entered into). Both of them involved days of commitment on my part to see them to success. And both of them were successful, coming off like clockwork. In fact, one of them involved me saving a life (literally). So days of driving, of waiting, of being in the right place at the right time, of taking charge and getting us to safety and success.
And during these events, the people I was helping fussed and complained and made things difficult. They questioned my actions, my abilities, all that. They were real pains in the asses.
I should have had someone look me in the eye and say, “You really saved me, friend. Allow me to give you my sincere and honest thanks.” And yes, the bow. “I am honored by you.” Bow.
The pain/gain rate was pretty much a waste in both cases.
Only today, when I got probably the worst news of my life and was digesting it in stunned silence, health services people were trying to get in touch with one of these people and called me. So I spent the afternoon (when I was suffering my own pains and sorrow) phoning the guy, trying to get in touch with him. I came damn near calling 911 for them to crack his door and rescue him (and yes, I’ve done that before). And all afternoon I got a message that his voice mailbox was full. When I did finally reach him, I told him (in an exasperated tone) to get it cleared up – go by the phone store and ask to fix it. And this earned me (not a bow) but a salty response. That’s fine. On my phone, voice mail works AND so does the hang up feature (which I used). True, cell phones don’t give you the solid thud of slamming down the phone against the cradle but it’s nice to cut that tie. You don’t want to bow? Fine. Solve your own problems, ingrate.
Funny thing – I’m finally cleared to ride a bike again. This afternoon, under cover from the rain in the car port, I used my bike tripod to lift my bike and clean my corroded chain and gears. It’s always so easy to work with it elevated to a proper height. And when I was done, I returned to the house and thanked my wife for that stand (which she’d given me a couple of Christmases ago).
Yes, think of someone you might owe thanks to and honor them. Extra points if you bow.
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