I drove into the drive through. I ordered my iced decaf at the triple-caffeine-beverage-store. I waited patiently as the car in front of me waited patiently, too, and finally got his drinks. Then I waited even longer to get mine. I drove out the other side of the drive through and took a big gulp . . . of a fully caffeinated drink.
Until that happened, I had no signs of hormonal dysfunction. Which is the reason I drink decaf.
So I drove around to the beginning of the drive through line again because it’s in the triple digits here and that’s why God invented drive throughs—no one walks outside in the daylight in Phoenix in July. No.One. Now there were three cars in front of me and I’d already waited four times too long in this line thirty seconds ago.
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw no one.
I turned down both side mirrors and began easing out of the circular drive through, praying with perseverance and asking with full-on faith that no one would plow into the back of my truck while I backed out. That’s when I saw her—the woman in the red truck who impatiently waited for me to finish my circus act. Still, prayer works and we did not meet by accident.
I parked, leaving my truck at the mercy of the sun where the air conditioned temps disappear through the cloth and glass interior like water through a sieve. I went inside where no one waited in line, two people sat at separate tables in the gigantic room, and three baristas stood behind the counter. In short, it was human error with no extenuating circumstances. So I politely told one of employees I had ordered a decaf but didn’t get it.
“Not a problem,” she answered, taking my cup and starting over.
Have I not blogged about this before?
Yes, there IS a problem!
It’s a first world problem, admittedly, but it’s still a problem! It was a problem for me. I didn’t want to park my car and walk out into the furnace we call ‘summer in Arizona,’ or I would have done it the first time around. I didn’t want to order this drink twice. I didn’t want to back out of the drive through because there was no “through” happening in the drive.
Not only that, I’m not the one who caused the problem. So why did the person who made the mistake tell me she wouldn’t hold it against me if she had to re-do the order she messed up?
I’ll tell you why. Because no one says “I’m sorry” or “You’re welcome” anymore. Polite responses, appropriate to the situation, have been dumped. Now the universal, one-size-fits-nothing response, “not a problem,” is all we’ve got left.
And. It’s. A. Problem.
How do I explain this? It’s a toughie, but I’ll give it a shot.
The very answer implies that a problem does exist but, through the graciousness of the offended/guilty party they’re willing to overlook your stupidity just this once. Or, in a situation where “not a problem” substitutes for the more appropriate “you’re welcome”, you can just take it at face value that you are not welcome and, again, it was a problem.
We’re not telling the truth, folks. “Not a problem” insinuates that there was a problem or we wouldn’t even use the word “problem.”
See the problem?
Sigh. I don’t know how to undo what’s been done to manners with this pathetic phrase. I could write a letter to my senators, but in light of foreign affairs, they probably won’t think it’s a problem. I could put it on a t-shirt, warning people I will stand for nothing less than “you’re welcome” or “I’m sorry”, but then I’d feel stupid and everyone would agree. And that’s a problem.
So, I’m throwing it up here, again, on my blog where I’ll look like a whiner who needs to focus on positive thinking a little more and stop making mountains out of molehills. AND be grateful that I have enough extra cash to order overpriced drinks in the drive through from the air conditioned comfort of my giant land barge.
I’m sorry. Thank you for listening.
I know. It’s not a problem.
With thanks to my husband for letting me post this photo which I unashamedly used to get your attention so you'd read this blog. And because I couldn't figure out how to use flickr.com to borrow other people's photos. I'm sorry. You know the rest. Still, it does make you wonder if he has a problem. :)