A while back I made myself available, (as did many others), to help some French tourists after a horrific accident killed five and sent three dozen others to trauma centers all over the area. The fact that I was able to connect with some people in need and make a small difference was reward in and of itself.
I was gratified to receive an email from one couple I had met this way, telling me they were back in France, albeit still hospitalized, but recovering slowly.
It is nice to hear the rest of the story but impressively gracious that they kept my card and made the effort to write a note in this situation.
A few days later I also received a very sincerely composed letter from the French Consul General of San Francisco, referring to being deeply touched by the moving gestures of solidarity towards our compatriots, etc.
I wasn't going to bore everyone with another French missive, but I've changed my mind. This is a lovely letter:
Je tiens a vous remercier d'avoir repondu a l'appel diffuse par les differentes associations francaises de la Baie et pour l'aide et le soutien que vous avez apportes a certaines victimes du dramatique accident de bus survenu a Salinas le 28 avril dernier.
Tous nos compatriotes touches par ce terrible accident, les victimes et leurs familles, ont ete extremement sensibles a vos gestes de solidarite. Vous avez fait preuve d'une humanite et d'une attention a autrui remarquables, et je voulais vous dire, a titre personnel et en tant que Consul general, combien j'ai ete profondement touche de votre mobilisation. Tres cordialement, etc.
I subscribe to the concept of thank you notes. I always write a note to my hosts after a dinner or upon receiving a gift. As a child it was required and we were gently nagged and reminded, for up to six months sometimes, but we always wrote our notes. I am less patient than my Mother was. My daughter didn't have six months in which to perform.
I don't think it does anyone any harm to make an effort to be polite. It is the small courtesies that oil the wheels of civilization. That said, I find these two responses unexpected and heartwarming.