News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

December 7, 2010

MS. TAKES: Memo to GM: A 'thank you' would be a nice touch

TERRE HAUTE — I was little more than a sprout, still on Mom's lap, when she taught me the “magic words” of “please” and “thank you.”

You don’t hear either much these days. Even if my “please” has been answered by the favor I requested, my “thank you” rates only something like, “no problem.” I guess it could get tiresome to keep up. What would be next? “No, thank YOU” maybe?

Anyway, my attention was arrested the other evening by a television ad. I don’t often pay attention to something which occurs as a “break in our regular programming,” but it was so different that I found myself paying attention trying to discover what product was being promoted.

There wasn’t much in the way of sound. A picture of a downhill skier taking a dramatic tumble pictured him getting up and finishing his downhill run.

This was followed by an ice skater whose rear hit the ice in mid program, but who got up to finish what had been interrupted by the fall. A couple of other stumbles and finishes followed.

But, the finale featured a prize fighter knocked to his knees, but who got up, presumably to finish what he had started, or at least to fight another day.

Then came the surprise. The ad was presented by General Motors, and the bottom line was, “Everyone falls now and then. Thank you America for helping us get back on our feet!”

I was gobsmacked. I knew, of course, that what is popularly known as the “bail out program” helped GM remain in business.

It also, not incidentally, saved thousands of jobs which would have been gone forever if GM had been allowed to go belly up. The company has survived, has paid back the bail-out money— with interest  — and has gone public with great success.

There has been nothing in the way of a thank you from the various banks and investment institutions who also benefitted from bail-out dollars.

Of course it was nice that they could continue to operate pretty much as usual, including passing out multi-millions in bonus dollars to the top CEOs. Some banks have repaid the loan, if only to escape regulation and accountability.

It’s easy to say “please” when you need a helping hand. I guess it’s difficult to remember to say “thank you” when it is extended.

It’s enough to make you want to go out and buy a General Motors car.

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Liz Ciancone
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