Friday, June 17, 2011

875 No Problem

875 No Problem

This started as a discussion with a friend.  Then it became a “status” line on both Facebook and Twitter, where it drew favorable comments galore.

The original “Tweet:”  When did "No problem" become a substitute for "you're welcome?" I'm tempted to say "glad to hear. What WOULD be a problem?"

The friend insisted that language evolves and he’s right.  But sometimes, evolution gets us three-legged frogs and two headed babies.  And this is one of those.

The most common use of this frog comes in restaurants, where it’s not only a substitute for “you’re welcome” but an acknowledgement of your breakfast order.

“How would you like your eggs, sir?”

“Scrambled, please.”

“No problem.”

Good thing, that.  Glad to know the Executive Chef at the grill doesn’t have a problem with and knows how to either (a) scramble an egg or (b) ladle the pre-mixed eggs from the vat in which they’re packed onto the Executive Hot Plate.

“What kind of toast would you like with that?  We have white, rye, sourdough and wheat.”

“White, please.”

“No problem.”

Good thing the bread wrappers are clearly marked.

But “no problem” isn’t the only catch phrase they teach in Famous Waiters’ Table School.  Another comes when you appear to have finished your meal but aren’t yet ready to leave your seat.

The waiter will generally point to the empty dishes and say “May I get those out of your way?”

The temptation is to say either

1.  “No problem!” or
2.  “Yes, thank you.  We’re about to put up a ping pong net and play a quick 21-pointer before we leave.”

What a pleasure the other day when a waiter, obviously a fellow New Yorker, substituted the un-evolved “I’m gonna take those away now, awright?”  Almost kissed him for that, but other diners might have gotten the wrong idea.

Another of those Famous Waiter phrases happens when you and your party walk into the place and you and those with you are the only ones at the front desk beside the host:

“How many today, sir?”

There are three of us standing there.  The temptation is to look over one’s shoulder, return attention to the host, assume a puzzled expression and say “15.”

Now THAT might be a problem.


Shrapnel (fast food restaurant edition):

--Denny’s is promoting itself these days as “America’s Diner.”  It is obvious the genius behind that phrase never has eaten in a REAL diner.  Denny’s is Denny’s and that’s fine... but a diner it ain’t.

--A groundswell has recently arisen for the execution of Ronald McDonald, because he appeals to kids who already eat too much of their high-calorie, high-fat, fiber-less food.  Poor Ronald will become impoverished and probably have to move in with his cousin Joe Camel.  Parents have no say in what their meatball shaped kids eat, or what?!

--Subway used to name its sandwiches for, well, subways.  But there’s only one-such left on the menu, the “Italian BMT.”  Anyone else remember that BMT once stood for “Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit” before the city took over the subways and combined them?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

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