One of the first things you would notice about Mr. Wu is his frequent use of the phrase “thank you”. He says it a lot, and not always in the way that “thank you” is normally employed. I have tried to figure out what he means to say when he says it at somewhat inexplicable times. Which as I said, is all the time.
At first I thought he was just overly polite.
Next, I wondered if he said it almost reflexively, like we might say ” unh-hunh, yes, I know that’s right”.
Finally I began to assign it to a desire to discourage further conversation, since he is always very busy, and does a heroic job of making everyone who comes in feel welcome. All of his customers feel like they are his friends.
Saying “thank you, thank you” functions as a real conversation stopper and is an ingeniously polite way to disengage from an interaction.
Perhaps though, as I have continued to mull and ponder, there is no word that does quite the same job of a Taiwanese word that may be missing from our vocabulary, and thus he has decided to say “thank you” in its stead.
At last, my curiosity, which always has the upper hand anyway, got the better of me, and I decided I would just ask him, reasoning that it was silly for me to continue conjuring up silly explanations.
So I said, “Mr. Wu. I’ve noticed that you say “thank you” a lot when we are talking.”
Mr. Wu nodded, looked at me somewhat quizzically , and answered, “Ah. Thank you.”
So I give up. It’s a good thing to say. Better than “awesome”.
From now on I’m going to remember to say thank you more often, too.