At the risk of every smarty-pants friend bringing it up from now until the end of time in a lame effort to be funny "which really should be left up to us professionals "I have finally decided to lodge a public complaint against people in the service industries giving the wrong response to a customary expression.
Here it is: When I say "Thank you," the correct response is "You're welcome."
It is not "No problem."
I wish I knew who first thought up this response. It's probably not the same person who instructs Chick Fil A staff to chirp "My pleasure," because at least they have the right idea.
Here's why the "no problem" response is so annoying (at least to me; the rest of you might well have "no problem" with it).
When a customer says "Thank you" to, for example, a restaurant server, they are expressing gratitude. They are saying, in more succinct fashion, "I appreciate the service you have given me."
The correct response, "You're welcome," means "I'm glad to provide that service."
The incorrect, and intensely irritating, response, is "No problem." That reply indicates they have taken "Thank you" to mean you're apologizing for annoying them. They're letting you know that, heck, they don't mind being bothered! If you hadn't come in, they were just going to be watching TV.
Obviously, I dislike that response a great deal. When I say "thank you," I'm expressing gratitude; I'm not apologizing for interrupting your soap opera. What's more, from this day forward, I'm tipping less to people who respond with "no problem," regardless of how chipper and chirpy they say it.
So, to all waiters and waitresses and receptionists and assorted service personnel: If you don't re-learn the correct response to a simple customary exchange of courtesies, your income could decline.
No need to thank me, but just the same: you're welcome.
Per diem payday
Our state lawmakers ought to be saying "thank you," too. A report in the Atlanta paper the other day points out that billions in budget cuts haven't stopped legislators from stepping up to the trough and fattening up on per diem pay.
The gripe from ethics watchdogs isn't so much about the amount of the money, some $3.6 million from Jan. 1, 2008, through March 19 of this year. Instead, the complaint is that there is very little oversight. Lawmakers simply file for the $173 per day payments and mileage checks on the honor system.
Naturally, lawmakers with leadership positions will file for more reimbursements because they are called upon to spend far more time in Atlanta. That's why the top three recipients of legislative payments are former House Transportation Committee Chairman Vance Smith, who in addition to his $17,000 legislative pay received $47,863 for 202 days of per diem and mileage payments; former House speaker and speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter, $43,052 for 209 days; and our own appropriations chairman Ben Harbin, $40,563 for 160 days.
All three are Republicans "which, again, makes sense, because Republicans are in charge of the state House and Senate. It isn't until No. 6 on the spendy list that a Democrat shows up: state Sen. DuBose Porter, a gubernatorial candidate, picking up about $33,000 for 123 days' reimbursement.
While I'm sure the Democrats raked in as much or more in reimbursements when they were in charge the previous hundred years, that doesn't absolve the Republicans.
Incidentally, the paper threw in this tidbit to point out what led to their story:
"Legislation was introduced in the House in March that would bar Georgians who serve on boards and commissions from receiving mileage and expense reimbursements. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, called for sacrifices in times of state budget crisis, but it specifically exempted lawmakers from having to give up their per diem payments.
How convenient. They should at least say thank you.
We'll say: No problem.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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