How many times have we heard the expression” Never mind” or said it ourselves? Probably a lot. Like most expressions that start out one way…human nature can take it and twist the original meaning towards polar opposites.
Originally this expression employed mind in the sense of “care about something,” a usage dating from the late 1700s. When it was and still is used in a caring tone…it comes across like this definition: Disregard that; don’t worry or bother yourself about it.
Sincerely said…it is a nice gesture of dismissing something that might be too much trouble for someone else…even yourself. But when sarcasm is added it comes out completely different.
Case in point: I was at Bi-Lo and a young girl was being trained as a cashier. You could tell she was nervous and was making some mistakes that required things like re-inserting the card and calling a manager over to delete the mistake. The man in front of me checking out was kind and considerate and didn’t add any more stress to the situation.
But this wasn’t true of the woman (now) in front of me. I had actually let her go ahead of me because she was huffing and puffing and staring at her watch. I was in no hurry…so I told her to go on. She nodded dismissively and didn’t say anything else as she took my place.
When the gentleman was asked to put the card in one more time…the woman in front of me “blew a gasket.” (Originally this term referred to a gasket that blew due to too much pressure inside a bottle) She bumped the man (still trying to check out) as she started shoving her cart past him.
The manager was trying to calm her down and said they would be right with her to no avail. She shrieked at the manager and young cashier “Never mind!” I am late for an appointment and there is no excuse for a delay like this. You need to train your employees before they start work to avoid situations just like this.”
The manager offered to check her out at Customer Service…but she was way too worked up now…“I said NEVER MIND! It’s too late now…and pushed the cart with all her groceries in the middle of the aisle blocking everyone walking by and stormed out.” Her last comment was “Never mind that I have a life too and need to be somewhere too.” (2nd definition) Especially not, considering what was just said.
I, along, with the manager tried to console the new cashier…she had finally gotten control of herself by the time I checked out.
I was trying hard not to judge the other woman’s inappropriate outburst…but again she had choices and this particular situation could have been handled so much better than the spectacle confrontation that ensued.
While the sniffling cashier was checking me out (Thank goodness I had cash for one of the few times in my life) I decided to counter that woman’s “Never mind” with mine. I told the girl not to get upset over this incident…”Never mind that the woman was rude and hurtful…we don’t know what might have preceded or provoked this outburst… I feel 99.9% sure her anger was mis-directed at you. You were not the instigator but unfortunately the target. You were (virtually) and unknowingly “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“You are doing a great job…don’t let one customer get you down.”Gratefully I heard people in the line behind me consoling her too as I left the store.
I didn’t realize that “Never mind” is used in different cultures and in more definitive positive ways.
Bob and Fran German discovered the difference in this expression in Thailand…there it is called “Mai Pen Rai.” In the Thai language, it literally means “to put it out of your mind…it’s not important.”
One day they witnessed just how sincerely the people of Thailand mean what they say when they use this expression. Fran tells this story:
“Several years ago we were standing in front of a shop in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand waiting for a friend. A public bus had stopped near us. Behind the bus was a young man on a motor scooter. He couldn’t stop fast enough and his scooter slid on its side.
To our horror, he and the scooter slid under the bus. Of course, the driver had no idea of what had just happened and the bus pulled away. The young man then got up, brushed himself off, righted his scooter, said “Mai Pen Rai,” smiled and went on his way!
This outlook is built into the culture of this 95% Buddhist country. But we know first-hand that it can work everywhere else also. It’s up to us and the choices we choose.
So until tomorrow…the next time the cable man is late, someone cuts you off in traffic, you accidentally delete something important off your computer, etc. just say “Mai Pen Rai” and put it out of your mind. In the end, in the big picture, it really wasn’t that important.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*Brooke is the epitome of how “Never Mind” should be used. I told her that my eye doctor said I needed to have my eyes “zapped” again and she asked when ….I told her…and here she is…to drive me to the surgery center today.
When I told her I was sure some neighbors could take me and she had her new granddaughter to keep…she said “Never mind”…I am going to take you.” So “Never Mind” to what others may say or do…have friends like Brookie and you never are alone.
As we waited for supper to warm…Brooke and I had a glass of wine and watched the new moon form…the South Carolina crescent moon…how beautiful it was.