Author Topic: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?  (Read 590 times)

Vark

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Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« on: September 22, 2022, 09:29:17 AM »
I've been in several situations where strangers call me "dear" or some equivalent: restaurant waitstaff, phone order-takers, people at airline ticket counters, supermarket cashiers, etc. I find this extremely irritating but am never sure how to address it in a way that will not anger these people and thereby result in subpar service. I sometimes call them "dear" in return, but that feels awkward to me. Would appreciate some suggestions on replies that are polite but get my point across.

mahagonny

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2022, 09:33:56 AM »
As far as on-campus life, I never address a student as 'Dear_______' in an email. Always 'Hello________.' Of course a female professor could certainly do it, and a male recipient would be required to put up with it, whether or not he likes it.

marshwiggle

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2022, 09:39:16 AM »
I've been in several situations where strangers call me "dear" or some equivalent: restaurant waitstaff, phone order-takers, people at airline ticket counters, supermarket cashiers, etc. I find this extremely irritating but am never sure how to address it in a way that will not anger these people and thereby result in subpar service. I sometimes call them "dear" in return, but that feels awkward to me. Would appreciate some suggestions on replies that are polite but get my point across.

Anyone I've had call me "Dear" (other than a family member) seemed to address everyone that way, so it didn't bother me.
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mamselle

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2022, 10:02:03 AM »
It depends.

If it's at the airport coffee shop and I'll never see them again, I let it go, usually (unless it's really obnoxiously put).

If it's a situation in town where I'm likely to reappear, I simply say, "Please don't call me that, thanks!" and they usually apologize and we go on.

I was raised in Ohio, where such blandishments are quite common, and they bothered me then, too; after I moved away, and was encouraged to take more control of the quality of my day-to-day interactions, and dealt with the fallout of an abusive marriage in which it became more important to me to shape the nature of my interactions with others more, I started speaking up more.

It is important to be able to distinguish between when the terms ('honey,' etc.) are just reflexive--the individual was raised someplace where they were expected, for example) and when they border on stalkerish grooming--which I've also seen.

That affects the tone of my reply.

I'm stern with stalker-types, more genial with others...and if they seem truly perplexed, I don't make a big deal of it unless it happens again. In those cases, I might say, quietly, "I'm not really your dear/honey, whatever, remember?" and then go on.

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2022, 10:02:40 AM »
This is a cultural thing-- in some places, everyone is "dear" or "hon". Certainly this is accepted, even expected, of diner wait staff in much of the US. Unless it is said condescendingly I'd let it go, especially for one-time encounters.
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kaysixteen

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2022, 10:23:06 AM »
It is cultural in many places.   Not all places-- here in New England, it is much less normative, though certain ethnic subcultures are much more likely to use it.   Me, I loathe the idea... it sounds like condescension, treating me like a child.   Six months ago, my local dentist cancelled my appointment because the hygienist called in sick.    Left phone message.   I called back, and the 20-ish receptionist, obviously speaking with a non-local accent, offered me a replacement appointment two days later, but at a time I was to be working.   I told her that I would not be able to do this and asked for another appointment.   She offered another one... six weeks later.  I told her that this was unacceptable and it needed to be sooner than this (after all, they had cancelled on me).   She said essentially, 'honey, that's too bad'.   I told her 'do not call me honey, address me as 'sir''.  Around here, traditional cultural mores do not permit 20-something receptionists do not address 50-something customers as 'honey, but I do get that she did not likely realize this, owing to her culture.   It steamed me greatly.   I was going to complain to her superiors but let it go, and took the six weeks later appt., largely because she was just not going to give me anything sooner.   I do confess that part of my opposition to being addressed as 'honey', (or, for that matter, things like 'dear') does come from my extreme irritation at having to accept such condescending, humiliating, disrespectful address, from customers at my pt retail job.

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2022, 10:34:28 AM »
Perhaps oddly, I have the opposite problem. People, especially service workers, often call me "sir". I respond: Please don't call me "sir", or I'll start believing it.
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Caracal

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2022, 10:59:11 AM »
I've been in several situations where strangers call me "dear" or some equivalent: restaurant waitstaff, phone order-takers, people at airline ticket counters, supermarket cashiers, etc. I find this extremely irritating but am never sure how to address it in a way that will not anger these people and thereby result in subpar service. I sometimes call them "dear" in return, but that feels awkward to me. Would appreciate some suggestions on replies that are polite but get my point across.

Anyone I've had call me "Dear" (other than a family member) seemed to address everyone that way, so it didn't bother me.

Yeah, I think that's almost always the case. I can understand being annoyed if you think you're particularly being addressed that way and others aren't, but I doubt thats what is happening.

Caracal

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2022, 11:04:50 AM »
   She said essentially, 'honey, that's too bad'.   I told her 'do not call me honey, address me as 'sir''.  Around here, traditional cultural mores do not permit 20-something receptionists do not address 50-something customers as 'honey, but I do get that she did not likely realize this, owing to her culture.   It steamed me greatly.   I was going to complain to her superiors but let it go, and took the six weeks later appt., largely because she was just not going to give me anything sooner.   I do confess that part of my opposition to being addressed as 'honey', (or, for that matter, things like 'dear') does come from my extreme irritation at having to accept such condescending, humiliating, disrespectful address, from customers at my pt retail job.

I don't really think she was naive about cultural norms. She was telling you that she thought you were being obnoxious and pushy. The honey there is a sort of faux politeness, it slightly softens the "too bad/jump in a lake" message to make it more socially acceptable.

Vark

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2022, 11:09:26 AM »
Caracal: Well, last winter I was dining at a restaurant with a small group of friends (both sexes, all the same age) and the waitress addressed only me as "dear." Not only annoying but puzzling.

mahagonny

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2022, 11:12:05 AM »
I've been in several situations where strangers call me "dear" or some equivalent: restaurant waitstaff, phone order-takers, people at airline ticket counters, supermarket cashiers, etc. I find this extremely irritating but am never sure how to address it in a way that will not anger these people and thereby result in subpar service. I sometimes call them "dear" in return, but that feels awkward to me. Would appreciate some suggestions on replies that are polite but get my point across.

Anyone I've had call me "Dear" (other than a family member) seemed to address everyone that way, so it didn't bother me.

Yeah, I think that's almost always the case. I can understand being annoyed if you think you're particularly being addressed that way and others aren't, but I doubt thats what is happening.

You're not in a position to mind it if you identify as male, so that question is settled. It certainly would not count as harassment, and you'd be laughed at for suggesting it.
In my workplace you can get in trouble, officially, for addressing persons identifying as female as 'dear' but not if you are also female-identifying.


I get called 'boss' by Black men which I might argue could be construed is passive-aggressive if one is considering the historical implications, but I just roll with it. It usually seems to be said in a friendly tone, so, well and good. There's enough real trouble in the world to be worried about this sort of thing.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2022, 11:15:59 AM by mahagonny »

kaysixteen

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2022, 11:32:23 AM »
Again, irrespective of the fact that the dentist had cancelled my appointment, not me, and for all she knew, I needed actual dental treatment asap, it was not out of line for me to tell her that I needed to be given another appointment at a time when I would not have to miss work, sooner than six weeks (esp at a large chain dental practice, which should have sent a replacement hygienist to this location, when the local one called in).   Only then did she call me honey, which pisses me off.   Really, it did.   Around here (this is not the rural southern backcountry/ Mayberry, etc.), this is not done, again, by a 20-something receptionist speaking to a 50-something paying customer.   This should not be hard to grasp, or accept.  I almost went online to the chain practice www and sent a complaint letter, but did not want her to be disciplined.

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2022, 11:39:52 AM »
Have you tried 'babe' or 'muffin'?
I know it's a genus.

Caracal

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2022, 12:02:19 PM »
Again, irrespective of the fact that the dentist had cancelled my appointment, not me, and for all she knew, I needed actual dental treatment asap, it was not out of line for me to tell her that I needed to be given another appointment at a time when I would not have to miss work, sooner than six weeks (esp at a large chain dental practice, which should have sent a replacement hygienist to this location, when the local one called in).   Only then did she call me honey, which pisses me off.   Really, it did.   Around here (this is not the rural southern backcountry/ Mayberry, etc.), this is not done, again, by a 20-something receptionist speaking to a 50-something paying customer.   This should not be hard to grasp, or accept.  I almost went online to the chain practice www and sent a complaint letter, but did not want her to be disciplined.


Oh, I'm not trying to get into whether it was right or not, just telling you that the disrespect was intentional. Would it really have pissed you off less though if she had just said "that's too bad."

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Re: Comeback when stranger calls you "dear"?
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2022, 01:56:24 PM »
A cultural thing that wouldn't bother me, unless context suggested that the speaker was being sarcastic or creepy.  Not sure I've ever been called specifically "Dear" by anybody I was not already on a first-name basis with.
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