“Thank You.” “No Problem.” – What Ever Happened to “You’re Welcome?”

I’ve recently become more aware that when someone thanks me, I reflexively respond, “No problem.” I don’t quite know when or why I abandoned, “You’re welcome,” but I’ve recently come to understand the genesis of responses to “Thank you.”

According to Margaret Visser, author of The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, unlike many other languages, English did not posses a standard response to an expression of thanks. The use of “You’re welcome” was first introduced by immigrants to the United States whose native languages dictate an expected response. Speaking on NPR’s On Point Radio (at the 27:35 mark in the recording), Ms. Visser noted that in Italian, the expression of thanks, “Grazie,” is followed by the response, “Prego.”

While “You’re welcome” has become common in English, so have “No problem” and “Don’t mention it,” the latter of which can be off-putting for some who may interpret the speaker as saying the expression of thanks was unnecessary. In reality, I think that English speakers continue to struggle to find an appropriate response to “Thank you,” an expression originally intended to signal the end of a conversation.

My Southern Excursion, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first half of my recent trip to Georgia. I headed south to visit my brother and, suddenly finding myself with unexpected free time, I decided to visit the Gulf Coast. Then, after spending a week touring Fort Benning and the surrounding Columbus, GA area, it was time for me to head north again. Thankfully, I wasn’t in much of a hurry.

In light of my obsession with federally-protected areas, I planned my return trip with an eye towards visiting as many National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, and so on as was feasible. To that end, I set out for Macon, GA and the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. As it turned out, however, my visit coincided with the refuge’s annual hunting season (bizarre, I know), which meant that without a special permit, I could venture no further than the parking lot. After taking a few pictures to prove that I had at least made an effort to visit Bond Swamp, I found my way to Interstate 16 and set off towards Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, on the other side of Macon. My plans were interrupted, though, when I noticed a familiar green mark on my Google Map.

Continue reading My Southern Excursion, Part 2

Eight Years Ago Today

Eight years ago today, I was a high-school senior finishing up his second-period math class when one of my school’s headmasters made the announcement that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Like most everyone alive on that day, I will forever remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about the 9/11 attacks. But the tragedy of September 11 also had a profound impact on my life from that point forward. 9/11 marks the day the innocence of my childhood ended and my obsession with NPR, world affairs, and all things news began.

Continue reading Eight Years Ago Today

Celebrating 50 Years of Beauty on the Kancamagus

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of what is now known as the Kancamagus Highway, New England’s first National Scenic Byway. When the road, then known as Forest Highway No. 8, first opened in 1959, it was unpaved, not maintained for winter travel, and only open during daylight hours. This last restriction was on account of the treacherous nature of the road and its lack of artificial lighting (a welcome state for anyone who has driven the “Kanc.”). Now, the Kancamagus is paved and maintained year-round, much to the delight of visitors to the area. The highway is particularly popular in the fall, when the New England foliage turns beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. It is also a popular way to see the snow-capped beauty of the White Mountains and Mount Washington while traveling across New Hampshire’s North Country. Whatever the motivation may be, if you ever find yourself in Lincoln or Conway, New Hampshire, you should gas up the car and take the time to drive State Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway.

Anniversary celebrations are planned at various points along the Kanc on August 14, 2009, with an official commemoration at 2pm at the Russell Colbath House. For more information on the festivities, check out the Union Leader article “Marking a half century of riding the ‘Kanc’.”

If you are interested in driving the Kancamagus Highway, Byways.org provides some valuable resources. An overview of the road, including some history, pictures, and directions to get to the Kanc are available here. A map of the route can be also be found here at Byways.org.

To give some idea of the route’s beauty, here are a few shots from my personal collection, taken Memorial Day Weekend 2008:

Mount Washington from the Kancamagus
Mount Washington from the Kancamagus
From the Kancamagus Highway looking down towards Lincoln, NH
From the Kancamagus Highway looking down towards Lincoln, NH