When Did “No Problem” Replace “You’re Welcome”?

It’s official, I am OLD. as much as I have tried to put up a fight against Father Time, it’s finally time to admit this is a fight I cannot win.  Sure I go to the gym and hit the running trails from time to time, thinking I am “staying” in shape, but who am I kidding? No matter how physically fit I may become, I am still OLD.  what make me feel so old then?  Is it my age?  My level of fitness?  No and not really.  It’s my dis-like for the casual response of “no problem” rather than the traditional “you’re welcome” after a “thank you” is given.

As “no problem” has caught on and spread, replacing “you’re welcome” in situations ranging from casual personal encounters to business deals, the number, vigor, and shrillness of the complaints in etiquette columns and Internet forums has spread along with it.

The reasons given are varied. Many especially dislike hearing “no problem” in commercial transactions and from folks in customer service jobs, since, as the customer is always right, nothing a customer could ask for could ever be “a problem.” “I assume my business is not a problem,” huffed one complainer on the message boards at the Visual Thesaurus. Others on the Internet have taken the same tack: “Why would it be a problem? It’s her job, isn’t it?” and “It better damn well NOT be a problem, because I just gave you my money.” Some dwell on the counterfactual: “I always wonder if the person would have helped me if they had known it would be a problem.” And from Twitter: “I know it’s no problem. You rang up my orange juice. How could that be a…problem?”

Others just think “no problem” is unnecessarily negative, dwelling as it does on the problem, and not the just-proffered solution. “You’re welcome,” has two generally positive words, compared with the doubly negative “no problem.”

“No problem” has, of course, been joined by other unwelcome responses to “thank you.” There are the variants “no prob” and “no problemo/a,” as well as “anytime,” “no biggie,” “no worries,” and “don’t worry about it.” (Although most folks seem to have no trouble with “think nothing of it” or my personal favorite, “it’s my pleasure.”)

Maybe I am putting too much thought into this.  Maybe it really is “no problem”. I guess it could be worse. “No problem” could be replaced by “yup.” Either way, Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

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