Power of Thank You


I waited for the man who put my shawarma together to catch my eyes and said, “Shukran!”  The stoic man’s eyes lit up and flashed a big smile towards me.  There was a moment’s hesitation as the man seemed to be thinking, “Should I ask him where he learned that from?”  Then he said, “AfWAN!”  That opened up our conversation.  I had tried to ask him questions to get to know him as he was constructing my shawarma, but the man’s gruff replies had always gone back to how I wanted my shwarma put together.  But that simple word, “Thank you” in Arabic, made the difference.  He did finally ask where I learned that word.  I told him that I’ve traveled to many countries and that every where I go I try to learn three things in each language: Hello, thank you, and where’s the bathroom?  He laughed, one of those deep, rich, jovial laugh.  We became friendly that day.

“Thank you,” like “I love you,” is a powerful phrase.  I remember those wonderful summer nights in Baltimore at both the Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, watching the beloved Orioles play.  Baseball wasn’t the only thing that made those parks memorable.  I can still hear Rex Barney’s “Thank youuuuu!” after he finished his PA announcements, and at the end of the game.  All the fans loved it, and many of us anticipated Rex’s finishes and said, “Thank youuuuu!” along with him.  They say Rex’s “Thank youuuuu!” transformed the city of Baltimore.  Rex Barney began his tenure as the Orioles’ PA announcer in 1974.  Baltimore was, and in many ways still is, a blue collar city.  Therefore, people weren’t prone to expressing gratitude often.  Rex Barney’s “Thank youuuuu!” taught the impressionable young boys, who are even less prone to say those words, how easy it was to show gratitude.  The mothers of Baltimore loved hearing “Thank youuuuu!” from their rough spoken boys and husbands.

Rex Barney died the year I left Baltimore (1997), but his “Thank youuuuu!” will go with me into every country I live and visit.  That’s the power of a simple pharse, “Thank youuuuu!”, “shukran”, “teşekkür ederim”, “Xièxiè”, ” Arigatō”, “köszönöm”, “terima kasih”, “kob kun krab”, “merci”, “dank je”, and “gamsahabnida!”  Go ahead, try it out on someone today. 🙂


Rex Barney
Baseball Player
Rex Edward Barney was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 and from 1946 through 1950. As a teenage phenom, Barney was signed by the Dodgers at the age of 18, in 1943. He pitched 45 innings that year. Wikipedia


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