When I was spry 20-something and antsy for the next best thing, I quietly asked my then boss’s boss, a Senior VP for a very large corporation, for a letter of recommendation for a new job I was seeking. My fearless mind and body (with my entertaining sidekick/boyfriend, Nick, beside me) drove over to his lovely home in an elegant neighborhood one Saturday afternoon, knocked on the door and was greeted by the Senior VP and his wife with open arms. Not only did the Senior VP agree to write the recommendation, but a thoughtful letter, both written and typed, arrived in my mailbox in a matter of a few weeks. I was touched.
Fast forward to six months later, I ran into the Senior VP in a downtown Minneapolis skyway. By this point we both had left our former jobs, myself being hired by the agency I aimed for, possibly with the assistance of his recommendation. He asked if I had received his letter. Dead pause. I was speechless and instantly red in the face. Of course I received the letter but How On Earth did I not thank him with a responding note? If not attached to a fabulous bouquet of flowers?!?! Looking back at that time of my life I remember days of wedding planning, traveling for work, job change…a lot. Of course, now juggling three kids and a business my old lifestyle looks like a breeze! Even then I was aware of my enormous lapse in judgement by not acknowledging the letter, especially with a written Thank You.
Still to this day, I think of my lack of grace with this incident every so often. Crazy I know. But it leaves me wondering…is it ever too late to write a Thank You note? In my case 15 years later, an out-of-the-complete-blue Thank You card, praising my old friend’s recommendation? I honestly don’t think it is too late. Would I find it strange or tactless to receive a note of gratitude a good while after an occasion? Not in the least. I might even appreciate it more, knowing my actions were meaningful enough to stay on the recipient’s mind years later. And, most importantly, it meant they took the time and thought process to sit down and write.
For the most accurate answer I turned to the Manners Bible, i.e. Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition (written/edited by Emily Post’s great-granddaughter-in-law, Peggy Post). No surprise, promptness was number two when it came to the fundamentals of expressing gratitude. Aside from the Wedding Gift accepted standard with a three month window of time, a written Thank You note should arrive no more than a week after an event or action. OK. So I will go against the Queen of Etiquette. I’ve always been a bit of rule breaker anyway.
So after a little more thought, guess what I did today? I Googled my old friend and mailed a letter to his current place of business. Hopefully he’ll laugh, be reminded of the importance of his influence as well as the value of a written note. Even 15 years later.