Thursday, April 14, 2005

Not a Problem?

It happen again yesterday. I was in a store. I made an inquiry of a salesperson. They helped me. I said, "Thank you." They said, "Not a problem."

Not a problem? Hell Yes, there was a problem, actually two problems. I needed something I did not have. That is why I was in the store. I was not sightseeing. Then I could not find what I was looking for. I asked for help. The salesperson provided that help, solving both problems. After thanking them for their assistance they advised me there was not a problem, at least as far as they were concerned.

Would they have still helped me if they thought it was a problem? Was my situation so trivial that helping me barely qualified as a good use of their time? Were they boasting of their mastery of the situation? Was it a subtle put-down?

What ever happen to, "You are welcome"? Or, "I'm sorry you could not find what you were looking for." Or, "Thanks for shopping with us." Or, "Glad to help."

"Not a problem" or "No problem" is becoming an all purpose response and closing remark. It is of recent origin. I have had some choice moments recently thinking of more inappropriate usages. Add your own.
"Doctor, thank you for saving my life."
"No problem."

"Wow Honey, you were great"
"No problem."

"Waiter, there is a fly in my soup."
"No problem."

"Gee Dad, Thanks for the bike."
"No problem"
I don't know where it came from, but I would just as soon it return. I am having a problem with it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You thanks him for his help, so he said "No problem" - meaning that it was not a problem for him to help you. Essentially, the phrase is now substituted for your prefered "You're welcome"s and such. Get used to it. Its the new lingo. And its the best phrase...ever.

Anonymous said...

2 things - I meant "thanked", not "thanks." I have food in front of me, which is the reason for my poor suject/verb agreement. Secondly, I forgot to explain who I am. This is your favorite nephew.

Go Cubs!

Malindi said...

what have you always taught me, father dearest? mankind is constantly evolving. of course our vernacular is morphing. when you were young, 'oh, rats' was a common retort (or at least that's what my Archie Comic Books tell me, Jughead : ) 'Oh, rats' in any other culture means call an exterminator.

you're just going to have to go with the flow on this one, dadoo. pretend whomever is saying "no problem" is Fozzy Bear from the Muppets who was known for responding as such. OR chalk it up to "that damn Gen-X". OR you can do what i do and make up your own language to confuse the masses in return for their trite phrases! for example: CHOUETTE (pronounced 'shwet', one syllable) means COOL in French. i use it all the time to rattle the cages of the mundane. it's fun - try it!

Adam - didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude to type with your mouth full?? - your favorite cousin