Several times a day, a young person speaks to me in question marks.
“So, I ran into Jeff? And he was, like, wow, you cut your hair? And I was, like, I know, right?”
I have no idea what the statement-question reveals, but it seems to be connected to some desire to not be judgmental. And this seems to be tied to the generational proclivity to perceive all things as relative. As in, I am so totally not, like, committed to anything that could possibly be construed as slightly offensive to anyone anywhere that I will say even obviously true things so as to indicate my willingness to be persuaded, like, otherwise?
Which is, I promise, my last nit. “No problem” seems now to be the customary reply to “thank you.” As opposed to the previously accepted “You're welcome” or “My pleasure.”
How about ‘you're welcome'?
“Thanks so much for the excellent service,” I say to the waiter. “No problem,” he says.
What does this mean? That it wasn't all that much trouble? Or, that service is a problem to be solved?
Doing something for someone in the line of duty or out of the goodness of one's heart is not a problem solved. It is a gift, a gesture, a sentiment. And when someone expresses gratitude for that gesture, it is customary to acknowledge that you were happy to extend the pleasure, not that it wasn't too bad for you.
Which is to say, you're welcome.
Charles Krauthammer is on vacation.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP