No Problem . . . .

Thank you very much.”
No problem.”

What is the deal with this “no problem” business? What ever happened to “you’re welcome“?  The answer?  Probably millennials.

This retort – “no problem” – is actually a British expression.  It is somewhat analogous to the Australian response of “no worries.”  However, “no problem” is deemed less gracious – and more informal – than “you’re welcome.”   I grew up with “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”  Sooooo. . . . I’m not a big fan of “no problem.”  Especially when some folks actually respond with “no problemo.”    

I must confess though that on rare occasion, I have responded – when appropriate – with the Swahili comeback (popularized in “The Lion King”) – “hakuna matata.”  Which means “no worries.”  When I say that, those not in the “know” look at me like I’m a moon rock . . . . .   

Memory Gardens

Donna and I were 24 years old when we got married.  A few months after we moved into a small third floor walk up in Arlington Heights, we got a call.  The fellow said “I would like to welcome you to the neighborhood and stop by and bring you a present.”  I looked at Donna and briefly explained.  She shrugged – “maybe it’s the ‘welcome wagon‘.”  I turned back to the phone.   “Sure” I said.  And we set up a time for him to visit.  A present.  Sounded nice. 

A week or so later there was a knock at the door and there stood this smiling chap holding a bag.  “May I come in?”  “Sure,” I said.  “May I sit down?”  “Sure.”  With that, he started telling us about how Donna and I needed to plan for the future.  The best thing that we could do for ourselves would be to plan for that day when we wouldn’t be around.  Donna and I looked at each other.  The fellow wanted to sell us plots — ideally a 6 pack — in Memory Gardens which was down the road.   “This is the best time to buy,” he said.  I guess they were having a sale. . . .

We did not buy plots that night – or any night.  But we did get the free – and to this day – incredibly memorable – gift.   Two tubes of Pringles potato chips.      

Taksim Square

[A logical follow up from June 25, 2013]  We arrived in Istanbul and drove in the direction of our hotel — the Crystal (No. 7, Taksim).  It was a little after 9:00 pm on Friday night, May 31st.   The activity going on around us was disconcerting.  Hundreds of people on the streets wearing masks and balaclavas and carrying signs and banners.   All heading to the thousands already gathered in Taksim Square.  Our bus could not make it up the narrow street to Taksim No. 7 so we had to get off the bus and carry or pull our luggage the last block and a half.   The street had barricades a la Le Mis.   It was about halfway up the street that the tear gas hit us.  At first, I thought there was something wrong with my eyes and I began blinking.  Rapidly.  Then squinting.  And I realized — tear gas.   I squinted as hard as I could keeping just enough vision to sherpa my way up the street.  I looked around.  Donna followed in my wake.  Head down.  “Let’s go” I said (quite unnecessarily).

We mercifully got to the hotel.  One of our number was in distress and being attended.  The lobby was jammed.  People.  Luggage.  The faint whiff of tear gas.  And sweat (the day had been warm).   Our hotel was at near-capacity with many Libyan guests (some with medical conditions presumably from the revolution).  After what seemed an age, we got our room keys and went up to our room.    In our first room, the toilet was flooding.  And the flush mechanism fell into the toilet.   I went down to the lobby.  Got another room and I went up to check it out.  I went in.  And quickly went out.  The room was full of tear gas thanks to wide open windows.  Brilliant. . . .  We got a third room.  Seemed to work.  No tear gas or toilet leaks.  We sat down on the couch.  Sipped some water and looked at each other.  Welcome to Istanbul.  And we went to bed.

The next few days, however, were perfection.  We were able to travel around unhindered.   The Blue Mosque.   Hagia Sophia.  Topkapi Palace.  Mass in one of the old Christian churches.  Wow!  But the evenings that weekend made the stay interesting as the crowds gathered in force — with sporadic violence — to protest the planned urbanization of Gezi Park . . . .

The Footsteps of St. Paul

[A repeat from June 21, 2013]  Donna and I recently returned from a trip to Greece and Turkey with the Catholic Theological Union (“CTU”) at the University of Chicago.  There were 35 of us making a pilgrimage — following in the footsteps of St. Paul.    

Saul of Tarsus was born in Tarsus in the Roman province of Cilicia in about 5 A.D.  Saul was a Roman citizen but he was also a Jew and a Pharisee.   And as a young man, he zealously persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth and vigorously attacked the early Christian church — and its members.   He played an active role in the stoning of the St. Stephen.  And he was involved in the rounding up and silencing of Christians.  However in or about 35 A.D. while walking on a road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was struck down by a bright light and the voice of the Lord (Acts 9; Acts 22).   Saul was blind for three days and upon opening his eyes, he literally saw the light.  He underwent a dramatic conversion and began preaching the Christian gospel to all who would listen.  And he was henceforth known as St. Paul.  St. Paul went on to preach the Gospel of Christianity to Jews, Christians and Gentiles until his death at the hands of the Romans in 67 A.D.    

The pilgrimage with CTU took us to most of the places where St. Paul wrote his iconic letters and to those places where he spent time:  Thessaloniki (I and II Thessalonians); Philippi (Philippians); Corinth (I and II Corinthians); Ephesus (Ephesians); Antakya; Athens; Kavala; and other places.  And we visited Tarsus.  Where it all began.   All I can say is “Wow!”   St. Paul sure got around.  And we did too.  The trip was a bit arduous on occasion but immensely fulfilling.    The only time of mild concern when we arrived in Istanbul on the evening of Friday, May 31st.  Just after 9:00 p.m.  To our hotel off Taksim Square. . . . .         

So this guy. . . .

So on Monday morning, this guy goes to work with a nasty-looking black eye.

What happened to you?” said his friend.

Geeesh. . . I was in Church yestereday. When we all stood up to sing a hymm, this old woman in front of me stood up. She was wearing a huge billowy dress and the back of the dress was stuck in her belt and in her rear end. So I reached forward and pulled it out.  With that, she turned around and smacked me.”

Gee that’s too bad,” said the friend. “You try and do a good deed and look what happens.”

The next Monday the same guy came to work – this time with the other eye all blackened.   His friend saw him and said “Wow! What happened to you?”

Guy said “So yesterday we go to Church. And we sit behind this same woman. We all stood up to sing a hymm and – just like last week – her big billowy dress was caught up in her belt and in her rear end. The guy next to me reached over and pulled it out. But I knew she didn’t like that so I just leaned forward and tucked it all back in. . . . . . “


It used to be that when a headlight or tail light on your car was burned out, you were susceptible to getting a ticket — for a moving violation. Today it seems that this threat has dissipated (or disappeared entirely).

When I was in high school – and college – when driving with a girl — and you saw an oncoming car with a burned out headlight tail light, we would yell “Padiddle!” And the guy could kiss the girl. If the girl yelled “Padiddle” first, then she had the option to say “yes” or “no” to the smooch.  I was pretty lucky with “yes” in this department and anyway. . . .

Today, I find myself saying “padiddle” more and more often.  It seems there are more and more cars on the highway with padiddle-worthy lighting systems.  Donna and I sometimes collect the padiddle kiss at the end of the drive. . . . .  But I have to wonder why people care little – about the padiddle factor.  I see headlights and tail lights out all the time.  And why the police are so quick to turn away from a potential pullover.  And fine.  Next time you’re out driving, just watch for those padiddle-worthy vehicles.   Oh – and guys – umm . . .  you know. . . .