No Problem

I’ve been thinking about thank you, or rather its response. The traditional response when someone says “thank you” is “you’re welcome.” But you rarely hear that anymore. When I listen to an interview and the interviewer says “thank you for coming on the show” the interviewee usually doesn’t say “you’re welcome.” More often they say something like “thank you” or “it’s been a pleasure”, or “I’ve enjoyed it” or “thank you for having me,” and on and on.

I’ve noticed that with twenty-somethings, “you’re welcome” has been replaced by “no problem.” How this started is a mystery to me. It partially speaks of a consciousness of we are all in this together, which is nice, but it also speaks of a self-absorbed world. This is highlighted when I’m at a restaurant and my server, say, fills up my water glass. When I say ”thank you” and he says “no problem” and what I really want to say back is “I didn’t think it would be since it is your job” but I don’t because they wouldn’t get it and would just think how they’re not going to become a crotchety middle-aged person like me.

Responding “you’re welcome” speaks of knowledge of the self and the role it has played in the particular interaction for which you are being thanked. “No problem” speaks of a sense of blissful arrogance—“I am doing this for you, but I’m going to graciously assure you that it is not a problem for me, in case you were worried.”

Or, perhaps “no problem” is not so self-absorbed but is instead a resigned dismissiveness to the baby-boomer generation—a generation that has squandered their responsibility to pass along a viable planet. Perhaps they are really telling us, “it’s no problem for me to do this for you, unlike the huge problems you have passed on to me. Thanks for nothing.”



15 thoughts on “No Problem

  1. I LOVE it!!!! It is funny because i was thinking exactly about that this summer when i was working with all those kids at the restaurant and i noticed that the “thank you” from a customer was always prompting in them this bizarre answer of…. “Sure”.
    What do you make of this?

  2. Wonderfully written post. Thank you. I have also taken note of this unfortunate shift in semantics and find it troubling.

  3. As my grandmother found my sensibilities, mores, and manners a bit “rough”…so do we find the same with our world now. Our time is passing rapidly into the mists. Good post as always, Debra.

  4. This made me laugh. I’ve had the same crotchety-puzzled expression, too, often enough. Yes, time moves on, but sometimes you just have to say, “Oy.”

  5. I so very needed a brief but truly rendered minute of shared insight and finely concluded humor.

    Well done, Deb !

    ……… Thank you.

  6. I was thinking about this the other day too – but from another angle. In French and Spanish, you’re welcome was taught to me as de rien, or de nada AKA it’s nothing. Very interesting indeed.

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