When do you not need to say "please"?

I just tore open the individual packet in which my Bigelow Earl Grey tea bag is packaged. The correct place to tear is marked “Please tear here.”

Now, I am a very polite person. I am a totall “please” and “thank you” kind of gal. I’ve been known to give a coworker a raised-eyebrow-“what’s-the-magic-word?” response to a “request” that leaves out the word “please.”

In this case, however, I’m not seeing the need for a “please.” “Please” indicates a request that is for the benefit of the requestor, not the requestee. It is to my advantage to open the pouch right – and it is absolutely no skin off Bigelow’s nose if I open the pouch wrong. Therefore, their “please” here is misplaced.

So misplaced, in fact, that I feel compelled to comment on it.

Whaddya think? Am I nuts for being annoyed by this “please”?

I’m sure the tea would rather not be ripped appart in an incorrect fashion, and it is Earl Grey so it is English. Just goes to show the tea was brought up propper.

That seems pretty normal. What about someone directing traffic, say in a theatre, “Keep to the left, please.”

Great, just great. Something else for me to obsess about…

I maintain that, if I’m doing someone a favor, I don’t have to include a “please” when requesting they assist.

Them - “Could you change the battery in this?”
Me - “Sure, just go grab me that tool up there”
Them - “Say please”
Me - “Looks like I can’t change this battery, sorry”

That is to the requestee’s advantage, though – if you keep to the left, you won’t get crashed into or whatever.

And bob – if you’re doing them the favor, the “please” does become optional. I’m talking about a peer relationship at work where someone says “Go get me the such-and-such paperwork” when we’re working cooperatively. In that situation, I want a “please.” And because I’m polite, if I’m telling an underling to go get me something, I’ll say “please.” Your example isn’t covered by either of these situations.

Perhaps Bigelow has hd a lot of customers who open the packet wrongly and then besiege the company with complaints, in which case it is sort of to their benefit to make sure their customers open the tea properly and stay happy.

But yes, perhaps it is just very polite and proper tea. Except that proper tea is theft. Confusing. :smiley:

As a general rule, I’d say any time you’ve drawn a weapon, you may dispense with “Please”…

Hmmm…“please fuck off and die” just don’t seem to have the same zing.

I got upset with a guy sitting behind me at a hockey game last season. My team wasn’t playing up to their usual standard, and we were losing the game. This jerk had been cheering for my team during the first two periods, but during the third period he got very profanely abusive toward the individual players. My husband was quite proud of me when I turned around and said “Will you please just go to hell and shut up?”

I mean, at least I was polite about it.

Excessive politeness in commercial messages bugs me, too, twickster. Also annoying is the tendency to imply that something is being done for your benefit, when this is not the case. Example: a local park has a sign on a trash bin that says “FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, PLEASE PLACE TRASH IN RECEPTACLE.” Well, heck, folks, this is not really for my convenience at all. The most convenient thing for me to do is drop the trash on the ground and walk away.

I find that
“Would you mind terribly just fucking off and dieing” has a certain ring to it.

Excuse me, hope I’m not interupting, I am your Assassin for the evening, would you prefer a quick and painless, or slow and agonising death?

Why I love the Dope, Part Three Bajillion and One.

It’s not just you. I certainly over-use please and thank you, to the point where I’m sure it just sounds like I’m mocking people, but it’s just how I was raised. The one that got to me recently was a sign outside a furniture store here. Instead of simply “No food or drink in store” or “Please, no food or drink in store” or “No food or drink in store - thank you” it was:

“We ask that you Please enjoy all food and beverages outside of our store, Thanks Very Much, Management”.

Now, let’s ignore the irregular capitalization and the misplaced commas, which sort of make it sound like it’s management that’s being asked to not eat in the store. First of all, were they worrried that including only “please” OR “thank you” would have people thinking them impolite? Second, how do they know I’m “enjoying” my food? Maybe I hate Diet Sprite but the vending machine was out of Diet Coke and I’m damn thirsty so I’m suffering through it. The sign writer took all the time to include please and thank you but is going to assume I’m enjoying my food or drink? Assuming is impolite and, in fact, makes an ass out of you and me. Third, informing the customer that the sign is from Management. Who else would write the sign? A concerned furniture lover? A guerrilla ad compaigner trying to sabotage the efforts of the store owners to have people enjoy food, beverage, and Swedish futons all at the same time?

Also, I think I spent far too much time thinking about this sign.

But just enough to make me laugh out loud at the possible non-management sources of this sign. Thank you.

To the OP: In people to people interactions, I pretty much sprinkle “please” and “thank you” all over the place regardless of circumstances. This is my grandma’s fault. When I was about 6, she took me aside because she wasn’t convinced that Mom was teaching me to be as polite as she thought I should be. She - very memorably - explained to me that I should pretty much say “please” and “thank you” any time I ask for or receive something, respectively. After that, I remember having “thank you” coming out of my mouth when it should have been “please” on several occasions.

As for the tea packaging…well, yes, a bit excessive, I suppose, but as others have said, in keeping with the company’s proper marketing persona.

You’re welcome? :dubious:


When I was in Hawaii, I saw the strangest sign on a buss. In big blue allcaps it stated: “PLEASE KAKHUA*.” I spent the entire bus ride wondering what it meant. Was I doing it? What would happen if I didn’t do it?

My boss has always been one for “short and sweet” signage around the museum in which we work. It stems from a bit of contempt for the intelligence of his fellow man, I discovered. A co-worker suggested that instead of, “No Photographs Allowed” we should put something like, “Please refrain from taking photographs in the exhibit areas.” He snorted and said the less words, the better. “I’d say a good percentage of people don’t even know what “refrain” means.”
*I don’t remember the exact word, but if memory serves, it was similar.

Oh no, thank you. No, but I insist, thank you. (wasn’t that some cartoon? I have interactions that sound suspiciously like this).

Also, I just noticed that my soy milk carton asks me to “Please open here” and “Please enjoy by:” followed by the BB date. I can totally picture some hippie designing the carton, praying that people won’t open the container on the wrong side or drink spoiled soy milk or he’ll totally break down and cry. “I asked you so nicely! Why couldn’t you follow my instructions to “PLEASE OPEN OTHER SIDE”?!?! I try so hard!!”

I’d say a please is just extra when it’s asking you to do something that benefits only you. “please tear here”… you’re only inconveniencing yourself if you decide to tear somewhere else. Whereas in “please throw your trash away” “please proceed in an orderly fashion” etc, you’re doing someone else (or society at large) a favor by complying. For signs or anything else where it just makes sense to get the point across in as few words as possible, thank-yous and pleases are extra, but not annoyingly so. I wouldn’t think “well fuck you, too!” if I saw a sign that said, “YIELD” instead of “for the safety and convenience of other drivers, please yield.”

Also, lots of translated-to-English products are super-polite. “please to heat water to 365* and cook for 20 minute for maximum good taste!”

Oh, well, I ordered the vegetarian.

Yes, but did you say please when you ordered it?

Man, you’d hate speaking Japanese.