When Brit Ben John caught sight of his 86-year-old gran’s open laptop recently, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
No, it wasn’t a webpage with instructions on how to make a bomb, nor a sign-up page for Ashley Madison. It was, in fact, the politest Google Search you’re ever likely to see.
Eager to find out a number depicted by a set of Roman numerals, novice web user May Ashworth typed in the box: “please translate these roman numerals MCMXCVIII thank you”
Ben couldn’t resist sharing a picture of the super-polite search with his Twitter followers, and in a couple of days the tweet went viral.
Omg opened my Nan’s laptop and when she’s googled something she’s put ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I can’t pic.twitter.com/hiy2tecBjU
— Ben John (@Push10Ben) June 9, 2016
Google U.K. office and the U.S. HQ also got to hear about it, and responded to May’s wonderfully courteous search with equal charm and warmth:
Dearest Ben’s Nan.
Hope you’re well.
In a world of billions of Searches, yours made us smile.
Oh, and it’s 1998.
— Google UK (@GoogleUK) June 15, 2016
No thanks necessary.
— Google (@google) June 15, 2016
TV shows in the U.K. use Roman numerals to show the year it was made, and May likes to get the lowdown on her favorite programs, Ben told the BBC this week. However, like many of her generation, she’s not a big user of computers and the internet.
“She goes to a silver surfers club at the local library to learn about computers and the internet, but she hardly ever uses her laptop,” Ben explained.
He added that when he asked her why she’d typed “please” and “thank you,” she said she assumed there was a person at the other end who takes care of search queries.
“She thought that by being polite and using her manners, the search would be quicker.” As if less than a second wasn’t already quick enough!