Let Me Call You Sweetheart
“I’ll just take your blood pressure, sweetheart,” the friendly young nurse-practitioner says to me. When she tells me that I’m cute, I reply, “I’m a little too old to be cute”. In fact, I think that calling older people cute is very condescending, but I don’t say that. And why do I think that? Because that is how you describe small children, who are indeed cute, unless they are throwing a tantrum.
She chirps that I remind her of her grandmother. I want to reply, “Thanks, toots” but I don’t. Here’s some advice to young people: just avoid remarking on an elderly person’s appearance, up to and including the “you look good for your age.” The best way to talk to those of a certain age is talk to them as if they were just another adult, without being patronizing.
I know some people who really get offended when a young person, whether a waitress or nurse, calls them sweetheart. But I’m sure these young people think they are just being friendly. They have no idea that they are stepping over the bounds of familiarity. I’ve often thought of calling the other person “hon” in return, but usually I just let it go. I figure as long as they don’t address you as if they think you are senile, you should just let it go. You don’t want to be mistaken for an old crank or curmudgeon of the “get off my lawn” variety.
Something that greatly annoys some women is being called “Ma’am” instead of “Miss” at a certain point. Oh, let this one go also. This never really bothered me. After all, the proper form of address for the Queen (after you’ve first referred to her as Your Majesty) is “Ma’am”. I figure as long as the speaker means well, what does it matter? Now if he or she called me an old lady right to my face, or even worse, an old bat, I can see getting mad.
Some older people I know also get annoyed when a young person says “No problem” instead of “You’re welcome” as a reply to “Thanks” these days. Actually, I don’t think many young people are familiar with the phrase “You’re welcome”. I figure that in French you would be saying “It’s nothing” in this situation. That could be translated into an informal “no problem” anyway.
But listen, sweetheart, speaking of grandparents, I’m reminded of one of my grandfather’s comic bits (probably borrowed from the vaudeville shows he saw when young). He would sing, “Let me call you sweetheart, I forgot your name.”
And speaking of calling someone, sweetheart or otherwise, I think we are all getting pretty fed up with endless robo calls. Even if they aren’t scammers, telemarketing calls can drive you crazy. The AARP seems to run articles on phone scammers once a month in their various publications. I always wonder why they don’t simply tell their readers “Don’t pick up unless you know the caller”. Caller ID has to be the best invention since the telephone itself.
We still have a landline, in addition to cell phones, and we’re supposedly on the Do Not Call registry, for whatever good it does, along with something called “nomorerobo.com”. I know zilch about how these things work, but after signing up, most of the calls we get are shown on caller ID as “incoming” (one ring only) or “out of area” or “private caller” which ring a few times and then go to the answering machine.
I figure if it is a legitimate call, the person will leave a message or I can pick up right away and answer. To my knowledge we have never missed a “real” call, say from a doctor’s office, this way. It’s rare that a telemarketer has actually left a message, except maybe the persistent Rachel from Card Services.
The latest annoyance is what is apparently called “neighborhood spoofing”, which explains all the calls you’ve probably been getting from a 252 exchange. The scammers figure you’ll be more likely to answer if you think it’s a local call, which it isn’t, plus sometimes they even steal the name of a real local person to show on caller ID. How this is done, I don’t know. The marvels of technology.
Again, the only way I know around this is to let these calls go to the answering machine. If it’s a call from someone you actually do know, you can pick up or call back. Or if you’re in a whimsical mood, you could answer, and if it’s a real telemarketer on the line, you could start babbling incoherently, all the while referring to your unwanted caller as sweetheart. That ought to work.