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Do You Have a Problem With This?

March 10, 2001|WILLIAM A. GREGORY | William A. Gregory lives in Juniper Hills

While dining at a local restaurant the other night, I ask the waiter for a clean fork.

The waiter replied, "No problem," and turned to fetch the utensil.

"No problem," I repeated to my wife. I should hope not; after all, we were paying for the meal and the waiter was an employee being paid to serve it. We certainly weren't expecting a problem.

Later that evening, my wife asked the waiter for some sugar and, sure enough, the reply was, "No problem." Was this some kind of new "Valley talk"? Had we asked for a favor?

My wife suggested that at the end of the meal we should tell the waiter, "That was wonderful; we won't be leaving you a tip," to see if he could stop himself from saying, "No problem."

This wasn't the first time that we have heard this new "Valley talk." After making an appointment at the dentist's office, my wife thanked the receptionist and, sure enough, the receptionist smiled and said, "No problem." Store clerks, health professionals even telephone operators are using the flippant saying in place of "You're welcome," or some other positive, affirmative or polite response.

I am sure that, sometime in the near future, owners of local businesses will inform their employees that it conveys the wrong attitude and is totally inappropriate to say, "No problem" to a paying customer. In the meantime, so as not to be rude, we'll have to be very quick after we ask for something and inject, "Do you have a problem with that?"

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