Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
A new phrase has emerged to afflict our daily
am amazed at how commonplace the phrase, “No problem,” has suddenly become in
daily conversations. If you haven’t heard it more than ten times this week, then
you must have been vacationing on the moon.
I turn someone responds to me by saying, “No problem.” For the life of me, I
cannot explain the widespread usage of these two words.
Did I miss
an act of Congress requiring the public to start using this phrase? Did Lucy
popularize it by saying it to Charlie Brown? Did the Pope mandate its use? Did
Billy Graham get it started in his crusades?
Was it in a
song by Hank Williams or Elvis Presley? Whatever its source, I missed it.
I wonder if
our Hispanic friends gave us this phrase. In
where the phrase came from, it is apparently here to stay, like it or not.
Actually I like it sometimes.
If I ask a
clerk in a store to direct me to the electronics department, it seems
appropriate for the clerk to say, “No problem,” and then give me directions.
If I return
an item I purchased to exchange it for something else, it seems alright to have
the clerk say, “No problem,” and assist me with the matter.
setting I may interrupt a colleague at work and say, “Do you have a minute?”
More often than not he or she will reply by saying, “No problem,” and I find no
fault with that.
context of these examples, the phrase seems to be a shortened version of “I
have no problem assisting you with your concern or your need.”
bothers me is that its usage has gone wild. People are using this phrase in
settings where it simply makes no sense.
Here is an
example. In a restaurant the waitress asks what I would like to drink. I reply,
“Sweet tea please.” And she says, “No problem,” and walks away.
waitress returns with the tea. As she puts it down on the table, I say, “Thank
you.” Again she says, “No problem.”
When I tell
the waitress what I want to eat, she says it again, “No problem.”
minutes later she brings my food and I say, “Thank you.” And believe it or not,
once again she says, “No problem.”
time I am so tired of hearing the phrase that I am on the verge of trying to
create a problem!
tried to analyze what people mean by this phrase, and what words were used
before the phrase was coined.
must mean, “I am happy to be of assistance to you.” Or perhaps, “Even though I
have other things to do, I am willing to stop and gladly help you.”
seem perfectly reasonable to me.
But I have
a problem with the phrase being used as a substitute for “You are welcome,” the
traditional response to “Thank you.” In that context, “No problem” makes no
news about this new phrase that has wormed its way into a thousand daily
conversations is that no one seems to use it to be offensive. Nor does its use
stir any feelings except possibly mild appreciation for the service rendered.
In time I
suppose I can get used to it. After all I have learned not to be bothered by
other meaningless phrases such as “How you doing?” or “Stop by sometime.”
sometimes afflict our conversations with a lot of hollow and insincere phrases
in an effort to be “nice” to others, when what we really mean is, “I am so busy
that I really don’t have time to squeeze you into my schedule.”
I guess the
best thing for me to do is to stop fretting about how many times a day I hear
the phrase and simply say to myself, “No problem.”
I hope you
don’t have a problem with that solution. If you do, then all I can say is, “No