The abundance of times I hear "no problem" in place of "you're welcome" almost drives me insane. Yes, I am most definitely a card-carrying member of the manners police. The worst offenders? The bag boys at Publix. I cannot tell you the number of times I say thank you to them after they finish loading my groceries into my trunk and they reply with the ubiquitous, "no problem". I want to say to them, "Is that how your mother taught you to reply to thank you?" I shouldn't only single out Publix bag boys because I hear the phrase freqently when I am out, but Publix seems like such a gracious Southern store, that I just automatically think they should train their employees to be better mannered than most.
When I saw Paula Simon's op-ed piece in the Herald-Tribune the other day talking about this same issue, I wanted to jump up and say, "amen to that, sister"! I had begun to think I was the only person who was bothered by this new phrase.
Instead of the gracious "you are welcome" followed by a smile, which makes you feel warm and fuzzy, "no problem" seems rather like a shrug of the shoulders and a "helping you was not a big deal and you are definitely not important to me". "No problem" is a throw away phrase.
Another phrase I am hearing more and more that really grates on me, especially from my own grandchildren is "sure", as in, "Would you like some more pie?" and they answer, "Sure". I then look at them with a raised eyebrow and repeat in a very dragged out way "Suuuure?" They then smile and say " I mean, yes, thank you, Nana." Then Nana smiles right back at them with a satisfied smile on her face. Nipped another bad habit in the bud. Chalk up one for the manners police!