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In the film Seabiscuit, the trainer tried to cure the horse’s nervousness by putting a goat in the stall with him to keep him relaxed. Seabiscuit grabbed the goat by the neck and threw it out of the stall. The trainer tried again with a horse named Pumpkin and a calmer, more composed Seabiscuit became one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

Thoroughbred yearlings run free in large pastures

As they get old enough to start their racing careers, they spend more time alone in stalls. Racehorses are herd animals by nature, and many have difficulty adjusting to the confinement and loneliness of a stall. A problem for trainers is that racehorses are temperamental animals that act up and become hard to handle when they get nervous and edgy.

Trainers learned that horses were calmer when they were around the smaller animals that would wander free around farms and stables

They paired troubled horses with companion animals and that solved most of their problems. Trainers quickly figured that goats are more practical choices than horses because they are cheaper and don’t eat as much.

Get your goat 

When something gets your goat, it annoys and irritates you. One folk tale says the term comes from back in the days of shady characters who fixed horse races. If these crooks wanted your horse to do badly, they’d steal its barn buddy the night before. The horse would get upset, spend a sleepless night, be very nervous the next day and do badly in the race.

Nowadays, the things that really get your goat are your pet peeves

A peeve is something that irritates and annoys us and arouses strong negative feelings. Peevish has meant ill-tempered since Shakespeare used it in a play he wrote in 1599.

Some things peeve most people. Many of us are annoyed by: 

  • People who talk while they’re chewing food.
  • Loud drunks.
  • Cars that turn without signaling.

What makes a peeve a pet peeve is that it is something that doesn’t bother most people 

One hundred years ago The Chicago Tribune ran daily cartoon pages. One of them was called The Little Pet Peeve. It featured illustrated humorous critiques of nuisances, inconveniences, annoyances, frustrations and generally thoughtless behaviors. Many of these pet peeves didn’t stand the test of time, like people reading aloud the title cards in silent films (boo, hiss!). Some did, like back-seat drivers, those annoying people who excessively comment on the driver’s actions and dispense unwanted advice.

No problem, mon was the common phrase uttered by perpetually stoned tourist industry workers in Jamaica

Jamaica’s primary industries were U.S. tourists and ganja. Americans would come for the easygoing mellow ya mon vibe common to beach towns like Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

Beatniks and hipsters of the ’60s and ’70s came by the tens of thousands to Jamaica

They came for the reggae-island-doper lifestyle in the heyday of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

Cannabis, while technically illegal, is present everywhere. Once while driving from Montego Bay to Negril, we passed a rastaman by the roadside waving a marijuana bud at us that looked as big as our rental car.

When tourists asked for a beer or a jet ski or a spliff, the laid-back barman, desk clerk or beach boy would say “No problem, mon,” the Jamaican way of assuring the tourists that their requests would be easily filled.

When tourists say “Thank you” in Jamaica, Jamaicans do not say “No problem” — they say “You’re welcome”

A few tourists took “no problem” back home with them

Some liked the sound of it so much, they applied it to more than responses to requests for services to be performed. Somewhere along the line, people started using it as a response to thank you and a peeve was born.

As kids, we learn when someone says “Thank you,” the well-mannered thing to do is to say “You’re welcome.”

Thank you is gracious, courteous, polite, civil; no problem is none of those things.

  • welcome is a warm and hospitable greeting. More front doormats say Welcome than say No Problem.
  • A problem is an unwelcome and harmful issue.
  • The use of the word problem implies that there really is a problem, which is insulting. When you reply to thank you with no problem, you are indicating that you really were inconvenienced but are insincerely pretending not to be.
  • The addition of “no” increases the negativity. No problem is two negatives in one. You’re welcome is a positive.
  • Thank you and You’re welcome go together like How are you? and Fine, thanks. Both are brief socially exchanged pleasantries.

Substituting no problem for you’re welcome violates centuries of polite and mannered social convention

Saying that’s not your intent doesn’t make you any less impolite. And that’s the pet peeve that gets my goat, mon.

Want to read more articles like this?

Click here for free, no-ad, no-tracking access to more than 250 articles  David has written each week since 2016. He covers lots of topics but all involve human behavior and the notion that there is always more to most things than meets the eye.


In Tobago, the weekly goat races are televised live. All goats are on ropes and their handlers run alongside. Click here to watch a goat race on YouTube.


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