Hey! You’re Welcome. by
(149 Stories)

Prompted By Manners

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Used to be that “hey” was for horses. At least that was what I was taught. It was supposed to be bad manners to say “hey” to get someone’s attention. No longer true. Just check the emails from millennials and younger, and you’ll see it’s a preferred–and flattering–greeting. I even hear it on NPR as anchors welcome reporters to a segment. When I get a work-related email that begins with “Hey, Marian,” it means that I am one of the tribe, which is a good thing. As much as I’m not offended, I can’t bring myself to use that greeting in my emails. I still use “Hi,” which probably telegraphs my generation.

Used to be that "hey" was for horses ... No longer true.

Does anyone say “Thank you” anymore? I’m not talking about formal thank-you notes, rather verbal appreciations of actions by others. That’s a tricky proposition sometimes, because there are gender issues. Some people argue that women should not thank men when they do chores they are supposed to be doing anyway. If my partner does the dishes and I thank him, he’ll feel he’s not obligated to do them. And after all, when was the last time he thanked me for cleaning the bathroom? However, often I would appreciate a thank you and not being taken for granted. If I do something special, I sometimes say, within earshot of my partner, “You’re welcome.” I’d like a return to a gentler time of thank yous.

Even though I’m tempted to rail against cell phones at the dinner table (does anyone even eat at the dinner table?), bad table manners in general, young people not looking their elders in the eye, and odd forms of dress, I restrain myself. Looking back, most of us can remember the horror our parents expressed about our hair, clothing, and music, and how civilization as they knew it would end. But, I doubt many women would want to go back to the 19th century and wear corsets, just to boost the chivalry quotient of the men. Manners evolve with the times, but hey, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement today.

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. I love how you put that “hey” into your final sentence. A very fitting coda to a well-argued essay!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    You are correct about everything, Marian. I certainly don’t want to go back to corsets, but things do seem to have gotten very loose. The salutation, “Hi” is less formal than, “Dear…”, but not as chummy as “Hey”. But around the house, my husband does expect me to thank him if he does something unexpected, but wouldn’t think of thanking me for doing everything to keep the household going (the laundry, the dishes, grocery shopping, etc). Weird. Yes, we are now, officially, part of the older generation.

    • Marian says:

      It’s a delicate balance, Betsy, and this past year in particular people are very polite in public and want to help me because I’m part of the older generation. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable but they are coming from a kind place, which gives me hope.

  3. Suzy says:

    Marian, you bring back a strong memory that I haven’t thought of in decades. When people used to say “hey,” the response I (and others) always made was “Hay is for horses, and not good enough for people!” Then proceed to ignore the person until they said something different. Of course nowadays I know everyone says “hey” instead of “hi,” and I have even been known to do it myself, just to show that I am cool.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    All really good points, Marian. Coincidentally, my wife and I have been streaming a number of Swedish series with subtitles of late. We joke that It seems as if all the characters do is say “hey” back and forth to one another, although the subtitle usually says “hello.”

    And cell phones at the dinner table is an absolute no-no. But I admit that my view on the issue changed drastically the day I retired.

    • Marian says:

      It’s a good bet that the Swedes really are saying “hey,” John. I confess I’ve loosened up on the cell phone issue in the last couple of years (after I retired), but we don’t look at them while both of us are at the table.

    • Thought I’d steal this opportunity to suggest the Swedish version of Wallender with Krister Henriksson if you haven’t already streamed it, John. I thought it was much more engaging than the one with Kenneth Branagh (even though of course I adore him).

  5. I almost hate to bring up my husband again, Mare, but this prompt prompts it. We actually thank each other for pretty much all those household tasks that are often taken for granted. It’s just nice…and not a big deal. Maybe it’s because we’re still practically newlyweds. (Ten years on May 1st!)

    And hey, I’m no prude — and in fact, I’ve been known to swear like a sailor in the right circumstances — but I can’t help roll my eyes when, say, I get in an elevator and kids are tossing the f-word around without the slightest concern that I might be bothered by it. I’m not sure if it speaks to them or their parents.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Great picture! I remember that old saying too. Not only does “hey” identify a generation, but general lack of punctuation and brevity often goes with it. Sending an e-mail with complete sentences and no emojis is so passe. Sometimes I have to deliberately turn on my casual to try to communicate.

    • Marian says:

      This happens to me often, Khati. Especially in business emails, I like to give complete information so that we don’t go endlessly back and forth in threads. Not the current way of things, though.

  7. Mister Ed says:

    I learned early in my legal career always to respond to an angry letter with “Thank you for your letter” and then reply to the substance.

    And BTW, happy to see one of my friends in your posted photo. Perhaps I should send some extra sunglasses.

    • Marian says:

      Sunglasses would be appreciated, Mr. Ed, I’m sure my equine friend would agree. I thought of you when I saw the photo and figured that because people were using “hey,” you wouldn’t be offended!

  8. Laurie Levy says:

    Marian, I so agree with the “hey” thing. If any of us kids dared to address our parents with that word, we received the “hey is for horses” response. It was only when our youngest went to Duke that I first encountered the “hey” thing. That was in the latter part of the 90s and we falsely assumed it was some kind of southern tradition. Every kid we passed greeted is with “hey.” Well, at least they were friendly and greeted us. So I guess that passes for manners these days.

  9. Excellent story, Marian. Preaching to the choir it seems, but reinforcement is worthwhile. Perhaps you remember: the “hay if for horses” retort ended with something? Maybe, “better for cows?” A dim recollection.

    Re cell phones: my partner’s 27 year old daughter enforces a protocol among her friends that in a restaurant all cell phones are placed in the center of the table, where they remain until the party leaves. Who knew self-policing worked?

    • Marian says:

      I couldn’t remember the rest of “Hay is for horses,” Tom, but I think Suzy included it in her comment. I like the idea of cell phones in the center of the table. Perfect solution!

  10. Risa Nye says:

    Marion, the one that gets me is “No problem” instead of “You’re welcome.” I mean, hey.

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