Attila the Hon

Dear Young Employee At A Local-ish Store,

I am, generally speaking, an amiable person – I am even, as a rule, kind.  I prefer to love my fellow man, and, usually, I do.  My fellow men usually make this easy for me by not calling me “hon” and “dear,” at least not if they are under 80 years of age.

But you present me with a unique challenge, when it comes to loving my fellow man.  You, for reasons best known to yourself, try to cram in as many “hon”s and “dear”s into our very short conversational exchanges as you possibly can.  Last time, you managed, somehow, to call me “Hon” twice, and “Dear” once, while you were ringing me up.  I will not, at present, go into why this is not OK.  I’m not even sure I fully understand why I feel my eyes bubbling with rage when I am addressed in this way.  I think it is the combination of assumed intimacy and condescension that the words imply; all I know for certain is that the mixture is, somehow, too rich for me to take.

Let me emphasize that you are a young man.  I would, if I had to guess, say that you are probably 25 years old.  You really should know better.  You have no grey hairs to protect you.  And yet, you call every single woman you ring up “hon” and “dear.”  You seem to feel that the financial transaction isn’t complete unless you manage to use both.

Young Man, why?  Why does this seem like a good idea to you?  It isn’t as if I am the only woman on Earth who hates this.  I’ve watched the faces of other women as you ring them up.  They all hate it.  And, given your age and other indicators, I suspect that you are doing it on purpose, to annoy me (and all other women).

And all of this places me in an awkward position.  I don’t want to have a talk with you about your behavior – if you are doing it on purpose, you probably won’t stop, and, if you are not, you probably won’t get it.  If you are a woman-hater, I don’t want to provide you with a focus for this hatred.  I also don’t want to report you to your manager for this – that might potentially result in your getting fired, and I don’t think it would be right to do that to you.  In fact, that would be a scummy thing to do.   But it displeases me to just accept your behavior, because that leaves me feeling powerless.

So, I have thought up a few possible strategies to deal with this situation, for my own psychological benefit and amusement.  The vivid fantasy in which I Dragon Strategytransform into a dragon and spew a raging fireball at you is, alas, not a viable strategy.  But I am seriously considering the following; I offer them here for what they are worth.

1)  The Cult of the Mustache:  False mustaches are, due to hipster trends, readily available and cheap.  I could keep a few in my purse with me at all times, and, when I see that you are going to be ringing me up, I could apply one to my face.  I could do this every time.  I do not think you will get it, or, if you do get it, that this will change your behavior.  But it would have benefits for me, morale-wise.

2)  The Miss Applied Gender Tag (ha ha):  Once, when I worked at a comic-book shop, a horrid young man grabbed me in an intimate spot.  I didn’t react at the time, because I was too startled to do anything.  Later, when I’d gotten my head around what had happened, the horrid young man swaggered up to the register where I stood.  I readied myself for battle.

H.Y.M.: So… you’re a girl- (he was obviously going to ask me for some sort of info on this strange species of which I appeared to be a member)

Me (staring at him intently):  How do you know?

H.Y.M. (dazed): what?

Me:  Here’s your change, ma’am.

The H.Y.M. left the shop, staggering slightly.  I felt a lot better, and he felt a lot worse.  All was, in short, well.  I could apply a similar strategy here.

Or you could just stop.  That would really be ideal.


M. Atherton


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  1. GRRRRR, I hate that, too! Even from the old dudes. Although I suppose it’s marginally better than “Toots”? Usually I give it right back and call them Sweetie-pie, or Sweetcheeks, and see what that does. No one’s said anything so I don’t know if they got it or not. I understand your rage.

    • Melanie Atherton Allen

      I am glad you give it right back; I hesitate to do so because I’d be afraid that it would be interpreted as a genuine sign of affection or approval. With the old dudes, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much, for two reasons: 1) they were probably raised when that was more socially acceptable, and 2) I can handle a certain amount of condescension from old people, because they have had more life-experiences than I have, etc. But this guy is, I am fairly sure, younger than me, which makes it especially weird and rage-inducing.

  2. I guess I’m fortunate and haven’t been called either of these things by anyone–male or female, young or old, for that matter. They do call me ma’am at the airport though, which I don’t like.

    There was one time though when I worked at a bakery, and I was on my way home in the middle of the night. I was in the city, hanging out in the train station while waiting for my train to show up, when a guy walking by took a long look at me. Then he said something like “I thought you were a guy at first” and then left. Maybe this is why I’m not called “dear.” 😉

    Anyway, I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award because I think your blog is awesome. Accepting it is optional, but you can find the info about it here.

    • Melanie Atherton Allen

      Sara- what an odd man! What do you think his intention was? Just to gape until he was 100% certain about your gender? That does seem strange!
      Thanks so much for nominating me! I am still deciding about participating, because it seems like a chain letter to me, kinda, and my personal policy on chain letters is to ignore them. But this one is a little different, so… so I need to do some thinking about it. It will probably be decided in this way: if I a) find several small blogs to nominate that I really, really like, and b) think of 11 really good questions, I will do it.
      Ooh, or we (and by we, I mean you, me, Lori, and anyone else who thinks it would be fun) could make up our own meme/award/chain-thing! Perhaps we could call it The Lobster Award. Hmm… well, I am up for it if you are. I am 100% serious about this suggestion. And I am seriously considering doing the Liebster award. It may seem slightly immoral to participate in the award thing and also parody it, but… well, I’m ok with that if you are.

      • I totally get you with the whole chain letter thing. It does kind of seem like that. But I figured what the hay! I like to look at as an effort to spread the love around, and not a “you’re going to die if you don’t send this to 20 people” type thing hehe.

        The Lobster award sounds funny, and I’m tempted to say “lets do it” just to see what you’d come up with. But I’d hate for it to come across as being mean. I don’t like being mean! 🙂

  3. I agree, it’s so annoying! I love your dragon fireball idea.

  4. Melanie Atherton Allen

    Hey Lori! I am pleased that you like my fireball idea. My anger tends to express itself in vivid and yet nonsensical violent imagery, I think because I am uncomfortable with the whole “feeling-anger” thing and I don’t really know how to go about it.

    Please see my remarks to Sara above; I know you nominated me for this Liebster Award thing also, and… and I’m really flattered, and yet unsure about participating.

    • I know what you mean about the chain letters. I don’t do those either. I did do the award, though, because I liked the idea of highlighting blogs I enjoy, and I had fun with it. It’s purely optional, of course, so whatever you decide — to do or not to do — is fine. 🙂 The Lobster Award cracked me up. I’d have to think about that one. I wouldn’t want it to come across the wrong way.

  5. Melanie Atherton Allen

    Yeah… sigh… I suppose The Lobster Award is probably not a nice thing to do. Alas! If I find a good public-domain clip art image of a lobster, I will be deeply tempted, though. The solution here is probably not to search for public-domain clip art lobsters.

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