Sat 10 May, 2003 10:30 pm
'You're welcome' doesn't deserve to die
'The traditional reply to 'Thank you' is on the endangered phrase list, Jim Kershner figures. The Spokesman-Review
I held the elevator door open and allowed a stranger to enter first.
"Thank you," she said.
"Mmm-hmm," I replied.
Then I walked over to a colleague and handed him a print-out I had promised him.
"Thank you," he said.
"Mmm-hmm," was my gracious reply.
Then I went home and retrieved the pickles from the refrigerator for my wife.
"Thank you, dear," she said.
"Mmm-hmm," I said, absent-mindedly.
Then I arrived at the Opera House and I held the door open for five people who happened to arrive right behind me. They each thanked me as they swept through.
I replied thusly: "Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm."
At this moment two thoughts popped into my head. First, I was beginning to sound like a defective clothes dryer.
Second, "I'm sorry," "I love you," or even, "I'm lost," are NOT the hardest words in the English language for a person to utter.
They are, "You're welcome."
I've noticed an astonishing drop in the use of "You're welcome" in our society over the years. For some reason, Americans cannot punch out those two simple words, even in circumstances which require it.
Be honest, now. If you were ever to leap fully clothed off a dock, grab a drowning toddler in a headlock, deliver the sputtering child into the weeping arms of her grateful parents, how would you reply when they blurted out, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"?
"No problem," you would say, after extracting a small perch from your shorts.
"No problem," is the new "You're welcome," even more than "mmm-hmm."
When you thank a waitress for a refill, she says, "No problem." When you thank a friend for giving you Mariners' tickets, he says, "No problem." When you thank your 3-year-old for using the potty like a big boy, the little tyke says, "No problem."
Not everyone says, "No problem." People who want to be particularly formal go with "No problemo."
Here are some other "You're welcome" substitutes in common currency:
"No big deal."
"'s' all right."
"Forget about it."
I am not concerned strictly with courtesy here, although I think Miss Manners would agree that "no problem," not to mention "mmm-hmm," is hardly accepted etiquette. I am concerned with the difference in actual meaning between "you're welcome" and "no problem."
"You're welcome" implies that I have freely given a gift of my time, my attention, or my door-holding arm, and that I am happy to give it. You are under no obligation to me for this favor, because, darn it, you deserve it.
"No problem," however, implies that I have done you a favor only because it caused ME no convenience. If it had been a problem, I might not have opened the door for you at all. Open your own stupid door.
Still, "no problem" is an improvement over "mmm-hmm," which implies that I have not evolved past the grunting stage. I can barely muster up the breath to acknowledge your existence, much less your gratitude.
So I think we should all work on honing our "You're welcome" skills this week.
I hope this will make the world at least a slightly more gracious place. If it does, please don't bother to say, "Thank you."
I would probably only reply, "Dude," and embarrass us both.
Yeah! I've been known to say "thank you" to a cashier to kind of point out that she didn't. And still, she comes back with "No problem." I'd tear my hair except that, um
Are you saying you have a full head of hair???
No, that's not what I'm saying, Husker, but thanks for the kind interpretation.
I do my best to teach my kids, " You're Welcome" My 5 usually says, " Its ok Mamma, You're welcome" I say thank you to my 3 and he says "
thank you" back LOL
And NO, Roger isn't bald. Nor is he loosing hair. His body is just creatively building a Solar Pannel, for brain power. :wink:
In Spanish the rejoinder would be "de nada"; literally, "it's nothing" but probably more effectively translated as "think nothing of it".
You are welcome.
Good manners are the lubricant of social friction.
Very common to hear "You're welcome " in Boston, and I've yet to hear it in NYCity.