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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Dear Starbucks, let's not be best friends (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Dear Starbucks, let's not be best friends
Orincoro
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Every time I come to the states to visit my parents, the culture shock is fresh and new again.

This trip, I'm getting annoyed with Starbucks. I have a name that is nit difficult to pronounce, but is whatever reason, difficult to hear and hard for a lot of people to spell. Every visit to Starbucks or any other chain is the same routine. A chatty barista asks my name, and I have to repeat it 3 times, and spell it. Then they have to use it. Why? I'm not your friend. I'm paying too much already for a cup of coffee to feel friendly towards you and want to be buddies. I like being called "sir" and I like not having people know my name and every little thing about me.

Now I understand this is a cultural thing. Czechs find it rude to address a stranger by his first name, and so it isn't done. and even when it is done, first names are always generic differentiators, and last names are often used to distinguish individuals. I like that. I feel like walking into Starbucks and saying, "you can call me Mr so-and-so".

In this age of layoffs and political tension, I think a little formality would be nice, even in California. Pekoe aren't feeling they get any respect, and I think this might help. Just a thought. I don't personally want to be on a first name basis with my barrista.

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Speed
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Why not make up a name?
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fugu13
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So tell them your name is "Mr. Lastname"
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Dobbie
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Maybe they're buddying up to you so they can have a Czech mate.
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Dobbie
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I'm sorry.
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Jon Boy
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quote:
So tell them your name is "Mr. Lastname"
Yeah, but then it seems like HE'S being rude by being difficult.
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fugu13
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I don't think most baristas would think someone who said "just call me Mr. foo" with a smile was rude, just old fashioned.
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Orincoro
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I've tried the fake name before. Not even kidding, the girl didn't believe me. She said I didn't look like a John. And then if you don't have any cash, they can see your name on your debit card.

As for "call me Mr." I don't even want to have to go there. The name shtick is not necessary and I find it to be phony. Having to distinguish myself as "traditional" and explain myself for refusing to give a name is too much bother. I just don't like the trend.

I think the next time, I'll try just saying: "you don't need my name for that coffee," with a kurt smile and see how that goes.

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Lyrhawn
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Who is Kurt, and how does he smile?
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fugu13
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The names really do help when there's high throughput.
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rivka
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http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Kurt-the-sound-of-music-563650_100_100.jpg
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Raymond Arnold
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Huh. I don't think I've ever had that happen to me at Starbucks, even what the barista is making special effort to be friendly. (I have experience in NY and Florida, dunno about California).
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LargeTuna
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I think the best response is something like "I go by J-Dawg"

Or insert any other ridiculous nickname that could very well be accurate, so the barista isn't prone to question.

Plus, for an added bonus, people might start calling you J-Dawg!

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maui babe
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My name is fairly common, but there are several accepted spellings and mine's pretty rare. In situations like you describe, I'm often asked how to spell it. Of course it doesn't matter, if all you're gonna do is call me when my drink is ready, and usually just say "however you want". I finally just started using my daughter's name, which is easy to hear and spell.
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Shanna
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I help out in my bookstore's coffee shop and the name-thing is partly for friendly reasons, but mostly to make sure that everyone gets their medium lattes in the right order.

Most of my coffee orders come back with the name "Shannon" on them. But most people will hear the slight difference and usually ask for a spelling. That's why I usually just give a fake name like "Suzie." I do the same thing when I put my name down for a table at a restaurant.

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Orincoro
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I have an Irish buddy in Prague who makes restaurant reservations every few days because his wife is a restaurant reviewer. His name is Rory. Try and get a Czech to say that name or understand it. He tells them his name is Steve.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Getting the Lattes in the right order
Oh, yeah, the few times I've been asked for my name it's obviously for that reason. Are you (Orincoro) sure that's not their motivation?
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GaalDornick
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I go by a nickname and no one has ever questioned me when I pay with a card (almost always) and it has a different name on it then what I gave.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
Getting the Lattes in the right order
Oh, yeah, the few times I've been asked for my name it's obviously for that reason. Are you (Orincoro) sure that's not their motivation?
Today I was the only person in the line. I would understand it in a busy place. That wasn't the case here- and since they ask often in this area, I assume it's the pet peeve of some regional manager. It is annoying.
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ambyr
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Depending on my general frustration level for the day, there are times when I answer "How do you pronounce your last name?" with a flat "You don't." Because they never, ever get it right, and it doesn't actually make me feel like I'm getting better service when I have to listen to someone mispronounce it ten times in a row.

Just call me by my first name. It's okay. Everyone does. I introduce myself without a last name for a reason.

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GaalDornick
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quote:
Originally posted by ambyr:
Depending on my general frustration level for the day, there are times when I answer "How do you pronounce your last name?" with a flat "You don't." Because they never, ever get it right, and it doesn't actually make me feel like I'm getting better service when I have to listen to someone mispronounce it ten times in a row.

That's a little rude IMO. They're probably just asking out of personal curiosity, not to provide better service. Does it really take that much effort to say it a couple times? And if they don't get it after that just say "nevermind."
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Bella Bee
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quote:
I have an Irish buddy in Prague who makes restaurant reservations every few days because his wife is a restaurant reviewer. His name is Rory. Try and get a Czech to say that name or understand it. He tells them his name is Steve.
I have a name that's really common in Spain (in fact, they think they invented it) but the way I pronounce it is slightly different - and no matter what I do, or how hard I try to say it the Spanish way, in every Starbucks I've even been to they just repeat 'Alba, right?' until I give up and give them a nickname.

So now the nickname comes first.

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Juxtapose
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
Getting the Lattes in the right order
Oh, yeah, the few times I've been asked for my name it's obviously for that reason. Are you (Orincoro) sure that's not their motivation?
Today I was the only person in the line. I would understand it in a busy place. That wasn't the case here- and since they ask often in this area, I assume it's the pet peeve of some regional manager. It is annoying.
You never know when a group of 6 people will walk in at once. Then if they don't have your name, one of the later group takes your latte by accident, then you're pissed off, and the employee learns to always get a name, because then the problem doesn't come up.

And also at Starbucks in particular, they really harp on having employees follow procedure every time for everything because uniformity of experience is at the heart of their business model.

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Orincoro
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I understand. The experience is universally phony. I would go to other establishments (and do when I can) if they were convenient or of the same quality (usually, they are not in my immediate area).

Ultimately it just grates on me that a stranger is taking liberties with my first name, when I have not given permission. That also means I've lived too much of my life out of California at this point to feel like a native.

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CaySedai
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I get annoyed by being called "honey" at the drive-through at McDonald's. I consider honey a pet name, or a love name, not something that I would call a random stranger if I were working drive-through (and I have in the past). It's too personal.

I process obits at work and now one of the funeral directors has called me "dear." Also not appropriate. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I have to agree with a co-worker who thought it was rather condescending.

But I don't know how to deal with it other than write up a blog post. I can't afford to offend the funeral director, whose company spends a bunch of money on obits at the newspaper where I work (yes, I realize they recoup that from the families). And it's pointless to try to educate the drive-through people because they really just want you to move on and not chat and they would just go back to calling everyone honey anyway.

So, my blog is my rant forum for times like this.

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The Rabbit
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Amen CaySedai!! You are NOT too sensitive. This is just plain rude.

I was recently on an airplane where the stewardess (pardon me "flight attendant") kept calling me "sweetie". I want to say, "I'm not your sweetie, show a little respect". I should have. Next time I will.

I think Orin is being ridiculous. In American culture, People of equal status, call each other by their first names. Using someones first name in America does not suggest you are best friends. I know it isn't the same in many other cultures, but culture isn't right or wrong it just is. Get over it.

But calling someone by pet names, like "honey", "dear" or "sweetie", is just not something you do to people who are neither your lover nor a child. Its insulting.

[ October 11, 2011, 08:43 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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jebus202
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No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.
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Jeff C.
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yeah, it can be annoying, but at the same time people really do like it. It makes them feel secure, which will make them return to your restaraunt. Some choose to welcome you when you enter their establishment by saying something like "Welcome to XXX!!" while others use the name thing. Personally, I think it's all retarded, but people like attention, and anyone who talks to them and gives them the attention they secretly desire is going to be the place they return to.

This kind of behavior has been shown to work, which is why they do it. People are statistically more likely to return to a place that they enjoyed or that made them feel safe and personal over a place that doesn't. Now, for some people, the minority in this situation, this will not be the case, and they will be drawn away from the establishment, but that's the minority. Studies have shown that using an individual's first name evokes a sense of friendship, personal belonging, and happiness, which is why more and more restaraunts and shops are starting to use them. It's the same reason the employees' nametags say things like "Hello, my name is Jane" or simply "Jane". We feel closer to people whose names we know, and vise versa.

And yes, I think it's definitely a cultural thing, but I'd expect it to carry over to other nations in the coming decades, too. These restaraunts are corporations, not limited by oceans or borders, and those rules they have are universal for their company. You might not like the first name thing that Starbucks does, but given a few dozen years, you might find them doing it in other parts of the world.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.

Lol. This, kinda. I know people who call everyone honey. I DO think it's kinda weird, but I know that it's not meant to signify closeness or anything - they just call everyone honey.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.

Orin's complaint is ridiculous because he is applying Czech cultural norms in California. It's ridiculous to do that, just like it would be ridiculous to get put off when people in Berlin or Prague introduce themselves as "Lastname".

Maybe calling complete strangers "sweetie" is considered polite and respectful somewhere. But I wasn't in that "somewhere". I was on a plane traveling between Chicago and Seattle.

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jebus202
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You are the American (I believe), so I will take for granted your opinion on what are and what are not the cultural norms in your country, but the US is the only place where I have experienced being called "sweetie" or "honey" by strangers, so I have to think it's a least more common place than you're allowing.

I'm with Orincoro on the first names things at Starbucks and similar large franchises. Not because I want to be called by my last name - I don't - but because the friendliness is clearly a false nicety and just a corporate conception of what the consumer "wants". They don't know me, and the only reason they're smiling is because they will be fired if they don't.

Just give me my order number on my receipt and we can all move along much faster.

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Mucus
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Isn't the first name thing an American thing too? I never have people use my name at Tim Hortons and I can't remember the last time someone used my first name in general.
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jebus202
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quote:
I never have people use my name at Tim Hortons and I can't remember the last time someone used my first name in general
I think you should, like, make some friends.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Isn't the first name thing an American thing too? I never have people use my name at Tim Hortons and I can't remember the last time someone used my first name in general.

Don't you mean Mr. Hortons?
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Stone_Wolf_
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I dislike the first name thing but not for any of the stated reasons. My name is Micheal, I go by Mike. The next time you are in a large crowd, shout out loudly "Hey Mike!" and see how many people turn around. Likely more then three. Whenever possible (when she is with me) we use my wife's name for reservations, etc. In high school I was known exclusively by my last name as there were already three Mike/Micheals in my class (of fifty).

When it comes to Starbucks, I just see it as an opportunity to have some fun. Who shall I be today? Thropmortin? Or Boris (with thick fake Russian accent) or Colin (with heavy Irish) or Nigel Gorden Hornbody the 3rd (with lots of throat clearing and "oh yes").

Bottom line, if you don't wanna give your name, then don't. They just need something to call out so you know your coffee is ready. Try "Megatron" or "Darth Vader" or "Bond, James Bond".

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advice for robots
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I don't mind being called "hon" by a stranger. "Sweeetie" would be a little harder to swallow, unless the speaker was grandma-age and had the appropriate sassy personality. Some college kid working behind the counter of a chain restaurant doesn't have the seasoning to assume instant familiarity like that. We notice the difference.

I have little love for corporate-inspired friendly traditions. At the haircutting place I go to, they cater specifically to men and the stylists have to greet me by introducing themselves and shaking my hand, as if we were walking into some good-old-boys boardroom meeting. Very fake. I have to restrain myself from rolling my eyes. They do have TVs all over the place with sports going, and in that sense they nailed it.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
I think you should, like, make some friends.

[Razz]

Edit to add:
quote:
Canadians are somewhat more formal than Americans with regard to names and titles. Use last names and appropriate titles until invited by your Canadian hosts or colleagues to use their first names. First names are normally used only by close friends and family. Western Canadians may use first names more frequently than other Canadians.
http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_ca.htm

[ October 11, 2011, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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Hobbes
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I've never been to a Starbucks, but most places that need a name for a pick-up just say: "can I have a name for this order?" at which point I give them my last name. Sometimes I get some funny looks (since my last name is pronounced 'war') but I've never had anyone try to force a first name out of me. Does this actually happen at Starbucks?

I'll admit to being annoyed by any pet names ('dear', 'hon', 'sweetie', 'son', etc...) as well people who read my name off my credit card. Part of it is certainly an implied level of intimacy with someone I've never met before in my life and will probably never see again. I think it's in the same vein with my dislike of people who hear my name ('Andrew') and immediately nickname me ("Good to meet you Andy"). I find it rude and overly forward beside which I don't go by a nickname anyway. I blame it on an over-developed desire to be chummy upon first greeting. A desire I don't share, I consider it a strength, not a flaw, that it takes me a while to make friends.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Jeff C.
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We should all start using our Hatrack names when we place orders.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.

Much as it pains me to say this, I agree with jebus.

Personally, I hardly notice the first name thing -- but I've lived most of my adult life in California. And I hate the hon/honey/sweetie/sweetheart/sugar thing from people I have just met.

But really, each is just as valid or invalid a pet peeve as the other.


quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
We should all start using our Hatrack names when we place orders.

I never have figured out how to verbally differentiate between my RL first name and my Hatrack SN. I'm guessing you may have a similar difficulty.
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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.

Much as it pains me to say this, I agree with jebus.

Personally, I hardly notice the first name thing -- but I've lived most of my adult life in California. And I hate the hon/honey/sweetie/sweetheart/sugar thing from people I have just met.

But really, each is just as valid or invalid a pet peeve as the other.


quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
We should all start using our Hatrack names when we place orders.

I never have figured out how to verbally differentiate between my RL first name and my Hatrack SN. I'm guessing you may have a similar difficulty.

[Wink]
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Nighthawk
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As far as my local Starbucks is concerned, my name is "Hawk". They sometimes spell it "Hawke".

Every time I gave the name "Night", they asked me to spell it as if it was European or something. I mean, they never ask M. Night Shamalamaman to spell *his* name, do they?!?

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

I think Orin is being ridiculous. In American culture, People of equal status, call each other by their first names. Using someones first name in America does not suggest you are best friends. I know it isn't the same in many other cultures, but culture isn't right or wrong it just is. Get over it.
.

I don't feel that I am of equal status to the person that is making me my coffee, in the limited context of that transaction. That's why they call you "sir," and use formalized language, and why you as the customer are not required to formalize your own speech to the same degree.

I'm being me, but I'm not being "ridiculous." Cut me so some slack and think about it from my perspective.

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Hobbes
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So do they keep asking explicitly for your first name? What happens when you just give them your last name?

Hobbes [Smile]

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Orincoro
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As I said, I'll try that. But I don't find the exchange to be strictly necessary anyway.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
I mean, they never ask M. Night Shamalamaman to spell *his* name, do they?!?

He has people to go to Starbucks for him, silly.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by jebus202:
[qb] No Rabbit, MY pet peeves are normal, YOURS are ridiculous.

Much as it pains me to say this, I agree with jebus.

Personally, I hardly notice the first name thing -- but I've lived most of my adult life in California. And I hate the hon/honey/sweetie/sweetheart/sugar thing from people I have just met.

My problem with being called hon/honey/sweetie by anyone other than my lover isn't the implied intimacy, its the condescension. When you address a stranger as "sweetie" you aren't implying you love them, you are implying that they are a child.

To me, the distinction is that terms of endearments, like honey/dear/sweetie, (when they are not being used to address a lover) are very frequently either condescending or passive-aggressive/sarcastic. "Honey" or "Sweetie" may be an appropriate the way you address a child whose name you don't know, never an adult.

What's more, using terms of endearment to address strangers is very commonly accompanied by a serious gender imbalance in the respect we afford other people. In my airplane story, the flight attendant called my husband "sir" and me "sweetie" on several occasions during the flight. The implied message was that He deserved respect but I deserved to be treated like a child.

By using your first name, a barriste may be acting like they are your equal. When they call you "sweetie", they are acting like their your superior.

I recognize that in parts of the south, its really common for people to call strange women, and sometimes even men, "honey". I suppose if I lived in one of those areas, I'd learn to live with it. But in the areas where I live, "honey" and "dear" are so frequently used in a condescending way that its very hard not to hear them that way even if that was not the intent.

quote:
I'm being me, but I'm not being "ridiculous." Cut me so some slack and think about it from my perspective.
It's ridiculous to apply Czech cultural norms in California. Would you not find it ridiculous if an American complained about how rude and snobbish it was of Czech's to call people by their lastnames?

I actually do understand where you a coming from. I go through cultural shock every time I return to the US as well (although not about this particular issue). The things is, I've found I experience a lot more culture shock returning to the US than I have any where else in the world. When I travel to foreign countries, I'm a lot more open minded about cultural differences. When I return to the US, I'm expecting to feel at home and it's a shock to recognize that I am no longer comfortably part of my native culture. I've always been critical of those Americans who travel abroad and complain about how things aren't done like they are at home and I've recognized its rather hypocritical of me to do the same thing when I'm in America.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
yeah, it can be annoying, but at the same time people really do like it. It makes them feel secure, which will make them return to your restaraunt. Some choose to welcome you when you enter their establishment by saying something like "Welcome to XXX!!" while others use the name thing. Personally, I think it's all retarded, but people like attention, and anyone who talks to them and gives them the attention they secretly desire is going to be the place they return to.

This kind of behavior has been shown to work, which is why they do it. People are statistically more likely to return to a place that they enjoyed or that made them feel safe and personal over a place that doesn't.

This phenomenon is highly culturally specific. I can pretty much guarantee you that calling customers by their first names would not make Germans feel safe and welcome.
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scifibum
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I don't think people usually mean to be condescending or false when they say "honey" or "sweetie" to strangers. I think they think they are being warm and folksy. I still hate it, though. I've fantasized about replying with "Thanks, sugarlips" or some equally silly escalation. I lack confidence that it would send the message, though.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I don't think people usually mean to be condescending or false when they say "honey" or "sweetie" to strangers. I think they think they are being warm and folksy. I still hate it, though. I've fantasized about replying with "Thanks, sugarlips" or some equally silly escalation. I lack confidence that it would send the message, though.

They probably aren't being consciously condescending but that doesn't mean they aren't being condescending. If you are enculturated to see some people as lower status, you speak to them differently without ever considering why.

If you pay attention you will notice that people are most likely to use these terms when addressing someone they consider their inferior: (children, people who are younger them, women, subordinates, minorities, people who are poorly groomed etc.) Watch and see. Look at CaySedai's story about the Funeral director who called her "dear". Do you suppose he would have used a similar term if a man had been processing the Obit?

[ October 11, 2011, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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