Wednesday, December 24, 2014

No problem


Just so exhausted.

No, it's not terribly busy. I'm not working hard per se. I'm actually laying pretty low here at the library today.

It's this new vow. I didn't think it would be so hard, but no, I am the ragged shell of the clerk I once was. It is excruciatingly hard!

I am trying to say "You're welcome" instead of "No problem."

Why am I doing this? Why have I gotten started on an early new year's resolution of such profound difficulty before I even have to?

I don't know. Like anyone trying to break the grip of a powerful addiction, the sheer stress of it has driven all reason from my mind. I'm like a smoker desperately trying to resist cigarettes, wondering why it mattered in the first place. "It's all foggy, something to do with cankers or cashiers or chancellors. Cancer! That's it. Something to do with cancer." And by the time you work that out you've already smoked half a cigarette, to calm your nerves, and so you could think straight.

Like this:

"Hey, thanks for tracking down that book for me."

"No probcome. I mean no pr... I mean, crap."

So wait, why am I doing this. Does saying "No problem" cause cancer? No, I think it has something to do with manners. I had a reason, something to do with a better use of the English language. But it's vague to me as I struggle. So I look it up on the Internet.

Four hours later I am back to report on what I found.

It's complicated. 

No problem may be acceptable when one is going above and beyond the call of duty. If someone says thank you for something mundane, say, checking out their books, "no problem" is self aggrandizing. Why would it be a problem? It's just my job. I'm paid to do this stuff. However, if I go running all over looking for a missing or a sort of unavailable book, and through persistence and employing all my wily tricks I manage to track it down, "no problem" can be acceptable to someone's thanks.

But I don't love it, I don't love "no problem", though I say it in that situation all the time. What do I really mean?

If I am trying to cultivate a laid back, anything goes atmosphere, I suppose "no problem" will do, but I am not trying to cultivate that as much as I think sometimes. It turns out that I love the touch of genteel formality we maintain, just barely, at the front desk. If I am trying to say, "whatever, they pay me anyway for this stuff either way." It's probably best to just paper it all over with the conventional "you're welcome".

But what I really feel, what I mean, is that I rather like helping people. It's sort of fun, I mean, if you can lower the bar enough for what qualifies as fun.  

And I can.

And that is why "no problem", "you're welcome", and "they pay me either way" are all wrong for me.

My appropriate response is "It was my pleasure." 

Because it was.

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