No Problem!

Posted on October 25, 2017


Contrary to the title of this post, it will not be about Trump’s answer to himself in the mirror, asking “Can I wipe out all GOP congressmen who don’t suck up to me?” Instead, this post is about the death of a beloved American phrase, “You’re welcome.”

With the exception of the recent revival of the phrase, as sung by Maui in the film “Moana,” “You’re welcome” is now as rare as presidential civility.  It has, instead, been replaced by the phrase “No problem.”

Not to split hairs, here, but Life in the Boomer Lane will now split hairs. As she understands the two phrases:

“You’re welcome” is a way of saying “The service I have just provided you or the action I have undertaken on your behalf is something I would do for you again and again.” 

An example would be a salesperson handing a customer a purchase. The customer says “Thank you,” and the salesperson responds “You’re welcome.”  In other words, you can keep returning to the store until your credit card is maxed out, and you could expect exactly the same level of service.

“No problem” is different. Very, very different. “No problem” implies that something out-of-the-ordinary has been done (or that someone has gone that extra mile), generally something that has caused someone else inconvenience of some kind. It’s a way to minimize your rude or inconvenient behavior.  It does not imply that they would welcome such action in the future.

An example would be your calling someone really early in the morning and waking them up. You might say, “Oh, I woke you!” when you realized they had dropped the phone and then, when they picked it up, were speaking in a whispery, garbled way when they answered. They might say “No problem,” as a way of alleviating your guilt. But it does not mean that they would be so kind in the future.

LBL now presents a handy guide for readers to know when to use either “You’re welcome” or “No problem:”

“Thanks, doctor, for delivering my baby!”     “You’re welcome.”

“Thanks, UPS Man, for delivering my baby when you came to my door with a package and saw that I was in labor!”   “No problem.”

“Thanks, Waitress, for such great service.”     “You’re welcome.”

“Thanks Waitress, for cleaning up the entire floor of the restaurant, after my children spilled all of their drinks, dropped their grilled cheese sandwiches and then stepped on them, and opened all the little containers of maple syrup and jelly.”      “No problem.”

“Thanks, Tech Support, for resolving my cell phone issue.”     “You’re welcome.”

“Thanks Tech Support, for listening patiently while I screamed at you about all of my issues with this cell phone.”       “No problem.”

“Thanks, Fellow Motorist, for slowing down and allowing me to get into the lane I needed to get into.”  “You’re welcome.” 

“Thanks, Fellow Motorist, for being a complete dick and not letting me get into the lane I needed, so that I ended up missing my turn off.”     “Fuck you.”



Posted in: humor, satire