Many years ago, when I was fresh out of school and working in Denver, I was driving to my parents' home in Missouri for Christmas. I stopped at a gas station about 50 miles from Oklahoma City, where I was planning to stop and visit a friend. I pumped the tank full, stood in line at the cash register, and said hello to an older couple who were also paying for gas.
I took off, but had gone only a few miles when black smoke poured from my exhaust pipe. I pulled over and wondered what I should do.
A car pulled up behind me. It was the couple I had spoken to at the gas station. They said they would take me to my friend's. We chatted on the way into the city, and when I got out of the car, the husband gave me his business card.
I wrote him and his wife a thank-you note for rescuing me. Soon afterward, I received a Christmas package from them. Their note that came with it said that helping me had made their holidays meaningful.
Years later, I drove through a foggy morning to a conference in a nearby town. In late afternoon I returned to my car and found that I'd left the lights on all day, and the battery was dead. Then I noticed that the Friendly Ford dealership was right next door. I walked over and found two salesmen relaxing in a showroom devoid of customers.
"Just how friendly is Friendly Ford?" I asked and explained my trouble.
They quickly drove a pickup truck to my car, attached jumper cables, and started my car. They would accept no payment, so when I got home, I wrote them a note to say thanks.
I received a letter back from one of the salesmen. No one had ever taken the time to write him and say thank you, and it meant a lot, he said.
Another few years had passed when a friend's husband died. Pat had been a well-respected doctor at a big hospital, and hundreds of cards were sent to the family. Among them was a sympathy card from a plumber who had once worked at their house. He wrote that when Pat had paid the bill, he wrote on the invoice, "Thank you for a good job."
Thank you - two powerful words. They're easy to say and mean so much.