Houston, We Have a Problem

I blame America. If it weren’t for the pervasiveness of our national language, Spanish, I would not have to be assaulted daily by clueless minions of the service industry who toss off that overused phrase for which life imprisonment in the hold should be the minimum punishment: “No problem.” Oooooo. I just want to pummel within a millimeter of death anyone says those three little syllables.

I thank the waiter for bringing my food. “No problem.” I tell the girl who let me in front of her in line how much I appreciate her kindness. “No problem.” I hand the doctor my entire life savings to pay him the ten-fucking-thousand dollars I owe him for a ninety-second surgery. “No problem.” Well. I’m thrilled as holy hell that no one has to put forth any effort on my part these days.

The phrase, “No problem” is the ugly twin-sister of the Spanish answer to “Thank you.” Gracias for the taco. De nada. Gracias for the boost over the border fence. De nada. The Spanish phrase means literally “of nothing” or “It was nothing.” In other words, “I didn’t have to expend any unnecessary energy to do that for you. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”

Every time someone hurls a “no problem” at me, he/she is really saying that I’m not worth his/her spending any real time/money/labor/thought. Every “no problem” is a personal diss, which just gets my goat. And I have a problem with that.

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