Below is a paraphrasing of one of my all-time favorite jokes:

Two Southern belles are sitting on the veranda of one’s home, sipping sweet tea. The first one says, “See my new diamond ring? My husband bought it for me.” The second one says, “Oh, how nice!” The first one says, “And see that new Jaguar parked over there? My husband bought it for me.” The second one says, “Oh, how nice!” The first one says, “And you know that big white house at the top of the hill? My husband is gonna buy that for me.” The second one says, “Oh, how nice!” The first one says, “Oh my dear, here I am, going on and on about myself! Tell me, what does your husband do for you?” The second one says, “Well, my husband sent me to reform school.” The first one says, “Reform school!? Whatever for?” The second one says, “Because before I used to say things like, ‘Shut up bitch!’ but now I say, ‘Oh, how nice!'”

That phrase, “Oh now nice!” has found its way into my day to day, because frankly we all find ourselves in ridiculous situations where you want to shout “Shut up bitch!” but must endure and say “Oh, how nice!” It’s a little disheartening when you find yourself on the receiving end of an “Oh, how nice!” because you (hopefully) realize what a pain in the ass you’re being and stop.

When we traveled to Mexico, there were lots of problems when we got to the resort. Being that we had a large group and considering the language barrier, the phrase: “It’s no problem!” was thrown around a lot. When I first noted this, I was told that they probably learn that as a default phrase, knowing few other statements in English, and that I shouldn’t make a big deal about it.

By saying: “It’s no problem!” they were dismissing our feelings of frustration and anger, saying flat out that our problem was not one, and had they not been staring blankly at the computer screen doing something, I would have been convinced that they weren’t going to do anything to fix it. It began to feel like, “Oh, how nice!”

As the trip wore on and unresolved issues became legit problems, the phrase became more of a slap in the face than the reassurance I assume they meant it to be. When we were told that we couldn’t make our golf reservations, because our room was in another person from our group’s name, and he had used up our resort credits, we were visibly upset. “It’s no problem!” they said. But you see, it is a problem, we explained. This needs to be resolved.

When I found a sliver of metal in my dinner roll and presented it to the server, his same response of “It’s no problem!” smacked of such utter apathy that it seemed he wanted me to put it back in my mouth and eat it. The more I heard the phrase, the more it felt like I was being told to “Shut up, bitch!” Considering that this was supposed to be a vacation, I didn’t appreciate having my problems dismissed so summarily.

Perhaps, if they had demonstrated a more sincere expression, or finished the statement, with “It’s no problem…for me to fix, ma’am” or “It’s no problem…for me to look into. Let me get right on that for you!” it would have left a better impression. Instead, it felt more like I was being a pain and that my problem was not worth even acknowledging, except with their version of “Oh, how nice!”