I’m always amazed at how little words or phrases can change my disposition, then my behavior.

I experienced both extremes of this phenomenon yesterday. In the morning, I went to my favorite little diner, to have coffee and read the paper. It was quiet, peaceful, only one other table occupied. A new waitress arrived with my coffee, and I immediately noticed there was a bright pink lipstick mark on the rim. I politely asked for a clean cup of coffee. The waitress said nothing, but picked up the cup and headed back to the kitchen. I was able to read the front section of the Nevada Appeal before she returned with a clean cup.

I said, “Thank you.”

She said, “No problem.”

It wasn’t until I heard her callow response that I really started to seethe. “No problem”? What kind of answer was that to a dirty cup and a thank you? Did that phrase mean she had a problem? That I did? I wanted to go back to my paper, but all I could see was the word “problem” floating in pink lipstick in front of my eyes. I was furious.

When I finally did get back to my paper, I found three typos in the sports page, and, as I left, I didn’t hold the door open for the couple behind me.

My next stop was the grocery store to pick up three forty-pound bags of water softener salt. The young man at the checkout counter didn’t ask me whether I wanted assistance, but just followed me to my car to help out. I like lifting bags under seventy pounds. It makes me believe I’m still virile. But the young man insisted, and carefully put two of my three bags in the back seat.

I said, “Thank you.”

He said, “My pleasure.”

“My pleasure” was music to my ears. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I was sure to make a complete stop at the stop sign – a rare, positive action on my part. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.