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"No Problem"…Yeah, I know.

November 8, 2009

“I’d like a large cheese pizza.” “OK.” “Thank You.” “No Problem” (pron. “PRA-LLEM”). Oh, it wasn’t a problem for you to take my $10, turn around, walk five feet, take a pizza out of a warmer and hand it to me? That’s nice to know. You were so friendly and enthusiastic, I could scarcely imagine you being inconvenienced by my asking you to do your job.

Actually folks, there is a problem, and I need your help solving it. The phrase “no problem” exists as a reply to a gesture of thanks in an instance where you or I inconvenienced that person with our request. A generous person replies “no problem” to ease our mental anguish over their involvement in our “problem.” Unfortunately, in 2009, “no problem” has become the go-to phrase for ingrates who can’t bring themselves to say “you’re welcome” (the judges will even accept “you welcome,” “yup” or silence, indicating no gratitude, whatsoever). Using “no problem” in place of “you’re welcome” is actually insulting and makes me want to undo whatever action induced “no problem” for the individual in question.

Actually, “Tammy,” I know it wasnt a problem for you to run those 10 items over a barcode scanner. It required nearly no effort on your part, not that you were going to make one anyway. Oh, and Shameka, I know it’s not a “problem” to hand me my change– it’s your job and legal obligation. The only problem was that I had to watch you for 30 seconds try to figure out how to make $.88 change. When I asked for a third of a pound of swiss, you gave me half a pound, “Edgar”. When I handed it back to you and reiterated my desire for the original fraction, you took it back and said, “no problem.” Turns out there is a problem, Edgar. The problem is after one week of swiss, I remember I don’t really like it that much and I switch back to cheddar. Do you know what swiss smells like after a few weeks? Probably a lot like where you’re from (“I’m from Florida, you asshole”). So if I have more than a third of a pound, my fridge is going to smell like a mouse’s asshole (they like swiss, right?). Are you going to clean my fridge, Edgar? Of course not. Really? You can’t figure out thirds? What if I took two bottles out of your six pack? I thought you’d get it.

Is our society so ungrateful, that no one is “welcome” of our patronage? Rather than express gratitude for our doting on their establishment, we have to be reassured that supporting their business is “not a problem”? Now, if some nice person smiles and genuinely says “no problem,” I immediately forgive their ignorance of the term and move on. But for people who are halfheartedly masking the fact that my request (and their job) is burdensome, I simply reply “Yeah, I know.” Is this going to change anything? …Yeah, I know.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 16, 2009 3:13 am

    That’s actually one of the things our instructors taught us during training: not to say “no problem” when we do something for a client. They stressed that point, and told us to say “of course” instead. I still think about that whenever I see people reply to my “thank you” emails or pings with “np.”

    By the way, have you ever seen the Family Guy about Peter’s show, “Grind My Gears,” or something like that? The tone and purpose of your blog mirrors that of Peter’s show. But then it was cancelled. So, in effect, this is somehow going to be cancelled. No problem! What?

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