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Monday, March 23, 2009

Is it just me?

I believe I am an anomaly among women my age. I don’t mind the idea of being called “Mrs. Homemade.” It doesn’t make me think that you are referring to my mother or grandmother. In fact, I adore it.

Oh, and throw a “Ma’am” my way and you’ll be on the top of my list for LIFE.

How I long for the days of ‘yore when people who didn’t know you on an intimate level would not refer to you by your first name. I don’t mean we have to necessarily go back to the days of Jane Austen and refer to our best friend as Miss Smith.

But, there has been a trend in the United States, even here in the south, which has taken us to new and, for me at least, uncomfortable levels of familiarity among strangers. Two fairly recent instances in my personal life come to mind.

I was at Panera Bread one day having lunch with a dear girlfriend. I walked up to the counter, politely placed my order, handed the person taking my order my check card and as he handed it back to me said, “Thanks, Donna.”

WHAAT? I really wanted to reply, “I’m sorry, when did we meet before?” But I restrained myself and moved on… kind of.

And most recently I called a local spa to make an appointment to use a gift certificate I have (which incidentally I thought I had lost). Right off the bat the girl answered the phone, “Thanks for calling the Whateveritsnameis Spa. May I have your first name.” (Notice I didn’t use a question mark because it wasn’t really a question the way she said it.) I was so taken aback that it actually took me a moment to respond. Now, I am going to have to call back soon to try again to set up an appointment because the day I wanted didn’t work out. I’ve decided that when she answers the phone like that I am going to say that, “My first name is Mrs.”

Whenever I encounter situations like this, I come home or get off the phone and complain and fume about it. My man tells me that I am going to make a great crotchety old lady some day, and actually thinks I’m already there other than the old part.

So, why is this? Why have we become so familiar with one another that we feel it is okay for a sales person, or clerk in a store whom we have never met before to call us by our first name? Why do they think it is okay to call me by my first name?

I’ve worked in retail and client/customer service long enough that I understand wanting to make a more personal touch with the customer. But only the clients that I talked to on a very regular basis and became friendly with did I ever call by their first names. And even in my current job, the financial advisors I work for will call clients by their first names, but I do not as I don’t have the same kind of familiar relationship with them. At least the checkers at my local grocery store have the decency to look at the receipt and call me by my last name when trying to address me by name.

And why are we as adult men and women so offended by someone calling us Mr. or Mrs. Whatever? In most situations, I think it is a sign of respect for the unfamiliarity of the relationship. Not a sign of how old you are.

Now, I will grant you that sometimes it is a sign of age as there are some people in my church, with whom it does not matter one iota how familiar our relationship is, I will only EVER call them by Mr. or Mrs. Whatever out of respect of their age and simply because of the respect I have for them as people.

Certainly I resented at the time having to “ma’am” and “sir” my parents. I thought it was awful that I was supposed to address them that way. But, it taught me a certain amount of respect is due the person to whom you are speaking. It is a lesson that I carry with me to this day. And you’d better believe my children are expected to address us with a ma’am or sir when the situation calls for it.

Are you okay with being addressed by your first name by people whom you have never met before like store personnel? Tell me, because I really am feeling like I’m the only one who notices this.

Is it just me?


Trish said...

I think respect in our society is being lost at a fast rate and I do fume myself over it. I am Mrs.,I have earned that title through many years of blood sweat and tears being a wife and mom.

Melinda said...

Scoot on over're standing on a soapbox with my name on it!! Oh, this gets me riled up!

When we first moved to Iowa, our children were met with uncomfortable, blank stares, when they called their elders "Mr." or "Mrs." They would stumble and mumble until they managed a "honey, my name is Susie - Mrs. Smith is my mother!". Then, we'd have to deal with their further bewilderment when we required that our children still call them "Mr." or "Mrs."

I think general respect and the showing thereof has been watered down to nothing now and, because of it, respect in our communities, children, marriages and even churches are in a state of demise.

Sad, sad stuff.

Heading your way soon...:o)

Michele said...

Funny thing is, I still can't bring myself to call people I consider "elders" by their first name. I do believe we need to teach our kids to understand levels of familiarity & respect. So, it isn't just you!

I do think there is a lack of respect that our children are learning in such a "familiar" society. I too try to have my kids use Mr. & Ms (or Mrs.) when addressing adults. I have compromise to instead of last names, I let my kids say "Ms. Mary" or "Mr. Paul" instead Ms. Smith. But with my oldest (6 year old) I am starting to have her say last names.
It is hard when other parents feel it is OK to be called by their first names, but I am sticking to it!

Susieqtpie said...

I personally LOVE IT when someone I know gets up on her "soapbox". When I get on one I think that i'm the only one who does it :P
I feel the same way. The respect that kids in the generation of 30 and under is really lacking. What is worse is the respect of kids 18 and under.
We have an open door at home. Kids come and go all the time. My soap box is the ones who come in and you don't even know they are there! They don't call out that they are in your house! One time I was not so decent in my dress when one came in. OK so now who gets in trouble for exposing herself to a child? lol That didn't come up but It could. I don't want my daughter going to someones home and walk in on an adult wo clothes on!
Also where is the THANK YOU when they eat at your home?
What are we as parents forgeting to teach our children!!!???
Why does it bother only a few of us?
My kids get compliments all the time on their manners...HELLO it should be expected!
OK great you got me started this morning!

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

No, you aren't alone.

We are teaching our girls to call adults by "Mrs. Last Name" or "Mr. Last Name" unless the adult requests otherwise. And if they don't feel comfortable with the more formal title, we still have them say "Ms First Name" or "Mr. First Name." Like Michele said, I still call people older than my peers by their formal name.

It doesn't bother me so much when a clerk used my first name because our last name is VERY TRICKY and could be offensive if mispronounced, so I definitely have a measure of grace for that. But teaching my children the proper way to address adults is hugely important to me!

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

Yes, we do the Mr/Ms First Name a lot here, too. Especially with our good friends that we see often.

Anonymous said...

It absolutely drives me insane! What happened to just proper etiquette and manners? It's just another example of the breakdown of the morals of this society as a whole.....

Jennifer said...

I love this post! I am so with you on this one. I have told my kids that the best way for your friends to stay on my good side is to treat me respectfully and that starts with addressing me as Mrs. I also get frustrated when I hear my child calling an adult by their first name and when I question them on it they tell me the adult told them they had to.
For really close family friends we have our kids call them Aunt or Uncle otherwise it is Mrs and Mr. I don't get why this makes some adults comfortable.
Thank you for addressing this topic!

Brittany said...

We do a lot of Miss First Name or Mr First Name. But what riles me up even more is for someone to call me Honey, Darlin', Sweetie. Ummmm, NOOOOOO! NOT ok. Unless you're my husband, parent, or grandparent, it is NOT ok to say that to me. Especially in a drive-through window!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

I TOTALLY agree with you!! You are definitely not the only one! One thing that I love about my son's Christian school is that they require the children to address ALL adults as Mr./Mrs./Miss. I get so used to it that it really throws me off to have a child call me by my first name and it makes me uncomfortable!

bigadd said...

I am really amazed at your comments and mostly those of your readers. As I have gotten older, it seems more comforting to me when folks address me by my first name. I always ask young kids at church to refer to me as "big jim". I will admit that I thought some folks should address me by my military rank when I first retired but then I realized it was just my vanity. I think all young folks should be taught to respect their elders but lets not get carried away. Are we all aloof because we feel those who are providing a service for us are inferior? I noticed that your bio to this blog refers to you as "Donna". Maybe you need to change that to Mrs. By the way---be sure you can read in all the puns. I don't want you to skip the family reunion because of me. lol


Anonymous said...

It is certainly not only you. I agree completely. I find that I am addressed as Mrs. less and less often. I have a teen and many of the kids her age will not attempt to address me by name rather than use Mrs. (I'm referring to the ones who are less familiar with me, but still know whose mother I am).

I have also been addressed by first name after shopping a store. And it wasn't even at HEB, which of all places, sees me often enough that we could be on a first name basis. LOL

Mary said...

You and Melinda will have to make room for me on that soapbox! Please people do NOT let your children call me Mary -- that's just not okay with me. That includes my teen daughter's friends. And she will call you Mrs. Homemade or Mrs. Donna, but either way, she'll place a title before your name. It's called common courtesy. Whew!

I got a little riled up there. This whole call me by my first name is a bit much for me. When clerks do it I ask "how do you know my name?" Of course, I know they got it off my check or card, but still.

Anyway, jumping off the soapbox to make room for others who also want to vent.

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

bigadd - You know you're my favorite and nothing could keep me from the reunion.

This is why I love blogs. I get to see all kinds of perspectives from all kinds of people.

I would totally let my kids call you Big Jim especially if they saw you each Sunday at church and knowing the relationship they all probably have with you.

And maybe I *WILL* change my blogger name to Mrs. Homemade. :)

PBandJBoats said...

I know what you mean. I'm married, I chose to become "Mrs." I like being called that. I like my mother in law and I don't think it's horrible that we have the same name.

What bugs me, like Melinda, is when people allow their children to call adults by their first name. You know, like, I wouldn't allow my children to just call you Donna. Even in the most familiar settings it would at least be Ms. Donna. But most of the time it's Mrs. Last Name.

Anonymous said...

I don't think respect comes from what people call you. And believe me, ifyou lived outside the US for a few years, you'd realize what a tower of virtue it really is. We are missionaries in Europe, and this culture is SHOCKING!!
On the flip side, we allow our kids friends to call us by our first names if they are comfortable with that. When you live in a culture with sooo many different people and traditions, trying to make kids conform to what I think is right is not going to go very far. All of my older daughter's friends call me by my first name, BUT...they are incredible, sweet, respectful girls.
Honestly, where I live, people are not friendly. I think I would weep with joy if someone addressed me by my first name.
I guess it's all just perspective.
People long for realtionship and connection. Maybe it's just a way to reach out?