The usual response to “thank you” used to be “you’re welcome,” though unless one is of a certain age, the phrase is little used these days. Now we hear, “no problem,” as a response. It would be easy to say of course it’s no problem; it is your job. Or why did it occur to you that it was a problem? Yet to the current generation it’s proper, so it’s something to get used to hearing. The Spanish de nada or the French du rien both literally mean “it was nothing;” or English speakers would say “think nothing of it.” The French also say pas de problem, which means it’s not a problem. Or the shortened translation becomes “no problem.” And we are right back where we started, with a polite acknowledgement.
Another generational thing happened to me nearly 30 years ago when my husband was mobilized with the Army for Desert Shield. We decided it was time for me to get a new car. I diligently found the best interest rate and proceeded to shop around. Hubs guided me to a model he thought looked good for us, from what he had seen around the post. With that knowledge I went to the local car dealership to inquire about the amenities of that model as well as pricing. The dealer was an older gentleman with whom we had dealt with on other vehicles. This time was different. Perhaps he thought I was just bored and was shopping for fun. With two young sons, I can assure you I had plenty to do without considering trading cars. I know that I had the feeling the dealer did not take me seriously.
A few days later I went to a dealership that carried the same models, in a regional town. As it turned out, the original dealer I had contacted was in the second store on that day also. Once he saw me, he realized I was a serious buyer and things changed — or so I thought.
I went back and dealt with him on the car. Once all of the paperwork was signed, he looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said, “Tell your husband thank you for me.” Not thank you and thank your husband; the dealer knew we were in this together. No, I was totally overlooked. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it, yet it was still odd. I chalked it up to a generational difference.
Now his son has the dealership. He doesn’t make the same faux pas that his dad did, simply because he’s of my generation. He knows women are a viable purchasing force.
Each generation has its commonalities and outlooks. As things change, for the most part it doesn’t mean one is right nor wrong, just different. Whether we say you’re welcome or no problem is a personal choice yet they are each polite responses. Let’s just hope in another 100 years manners are still valued. ❖
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