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 transform 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.