No Problem.


Electric Ct., originally uploaded by Here in Van Nuys.

No Problem

For a long time, it seemed that the phrase “no problem” was an expression used to defuse a conflict.

Someone was angry. To make that person less angry, you would, in the midst of an escalating confrontation, put both your palms up, facing the enraged man, and say, “no problem”. You hoped that “its cool” or “no problem” would defuse the madness.

But walking around Westfield Topanga, yesterday afternoon, I found a new expression replacing “you’re welcome”.

I bought a small cup of ice cream at LA Creamery. “Thank you”, I said to the clerk. She replied, “No problem”.

At CSUN, later in the afternoon, I handed a CD to a young assistant to the Director of Marketing. “No problem”, he said.

This morning, picking up my dental x-ray in Van Nuys, I thanked the assistant. “No problem” she answered.

I called Netflix customer service yesterday to request a DVD. The interaction was courteous and efficient. I thanked the rep. “No problem”, he answered.

I know courtesy is under assault these days. But why is the very simple you’re welcome, an expression of gratitude, humility and niceness, less used?

If you can supply me with an answer, I’d greatly appreciate it.

It seems that I am the last American to discover this linguistic development.