14 November 2012
to sir with love.
Although the following post isn't particular to my travels, my recent trips hither and thither have caused me to zero in on a tendency—a trend, you might say—that otherwise might have escaped my notice.
More and more people, I find, are addressing me as 'sir,' and I find it disturbing and unacceptable. When I first went through airport security on Friday, a middle-aged female TSA agent said to me, 'Thank you, sir' as she handed me back my boarding pass and license. Well, I don't know about you, but I'd actually prefer a surly, uncommunicative agent to one who bestows honorifics upon me that are reserved for the aged and infirm. I don't wish to be 'respected' (if that's the right word) by means of this tiny, grating word.
Similarly, teenagers working part-time in the service industry all over this country seem to imagine that I'm a sir. Since when do teenagers ever try to be polite—even when their jobs proscribe it? I'll tell you when... When they see a droopy, ashen, broken-down husk of a man hobble up to the cash register with a cane in one hand and an antique ear trumpet in the other. Think I'm exaggerating? Well, of course I am—I don't own an ear trumpet—but that's the way I picture myself every time some spotty kid in an logo-embroidered smock hands me my change. (They're probably even disgusted that sometimes I pay with cash. Who does such a thing? I might just as well try to barter with animal pelts and loose tobacco.)
Do you get what I'm saying here? If you could see who I am deep down in the furthest reaches of this mortal coil, you'd know for sure that I wasn't a sir. I'm just a guy. That's all. I'm just some guy who is trying to board a 737 or get an oil change or order a burrito. There's no need to hand me a scepter and crown my head with a chaplet made of ivy leaf. And don't you dare look at me from across that great distance that separates a young person reveling in his hopes and dreams and an old(er) person trying to remember where he set down his keys... because you listen to me: I've looked across that distance from the other direction before—and when I was standing where you're standing right now, glaring with contempt at the Adult World, I sure as hell didn't refer to anybody as sir. Why do people need to be referred to at all? 'Thank you' does the job just as well as 'thank you, sir'—unless you're in the military, I suppose. And no, I don't fucking need any help taking my groceries to the car, you giant sebaceous gland.