musings on the ordinary from a retired drama professor
Thursday, January 6, 2011
day 283: No Problem
Styles in social banter change, I know. But I wonder if anyone else has noticed an alarming trend. It is the use of "No problem" as a standard reply to "Thank you." A dozen times this evening in a new local restaurant waiters brought me something, filled a water glass, or took care of a request. When someone does something for me I am in the habit of acknowledging my awareness of these actions by saying "thank you." I get the oddest feeling when my "thank you" is parried by "no problem." Think about it for a moment. The result of deflecting a thank you with a no problem is to toss away the acknowledgement as unnecessary. Students of status will quickly see that using "no problem" as the reply to "thank you" has the effect of lowering the status of the one who gave thanks. It is the same thing that happens when you deflect a compliment: "Your hair looks great!" "Oh, it is a terrible new cut I just got." Instead of appearing modest the the one who responds this way makes the complimenting friend seem to have poor judgement.
I am hoping we can bring back the old fashioned: "You are welcome" as the reply to a thanks. This raises the status of the speaker instead of suggesting that nothing has been done. I believe that those waiters who use the no problem reply actually think they are being polite. I wish some boss or aunt would set them straight. And, then there would be no problem.