For some time now while shopping at home I have noticed a behavioral change in the clerks, tellers, or whatever the politically correct term is these days for the person taking your money at the cash register. Perhaps you have noted it too, but it has crept in so casually in Canada that you have not taken noticed. You are no longer addressed with “Thank you sir, please come again”, or “Here is your change and have a nice day”. Those are just small simple words, but effective, and polite.
So what am I leading up to? These days when I go to many retail outlets, I get from the cashiers more often than not, little quips like, “Will that be cash or credit … Dear, Darling, Honey, Sweetie, Sugar, Love, Baby, and a few more that escape me right now. Again maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. I do not consider myself antisocial in anyway. Matter of fact would like to think of myself something of a happy go lucky kind of guy.
I first noticed these little quips perhaps while travelling in the UK, many years ago, and they did not bother me as much then. Actually I think hearing them in the UK; I mostly attributed it to a cultural thing at the time. Perhaps I first heard them on TV, while listening to British programs growing up, so on my first visits there, I subconsciously, I suppose I expected it. It’s not really clear just when I first started to encounter them or really took notice, but now at home I do find them annoying.
I do not know these people. Certainly we are not enemies but neither are we bosom buddies. What happened to “Good day sir? Sir will that be cash or credit”? I am sure that the store managers are encouraging their cashiers to be polite and courteous but they do not need to invade my aural space so intensely.
At first when I started to hear it occasionally around home, it was not really a big deal. However now it seems to me it’s almost taking on epidemic proportions. It’s hard to go anywhere in the space of one day and NOT hear at least a dozen of these little words; usually several in the same transaction.
To me, when I hear it at the cash register in many ways, I feel it’s like being at a social party where that one annoying person who, when he talks to you insistently moves in closer and closer. That person who gets so much in your personal space that you feel, if you don’t back up he is likely going to exchange shoes with you. I’m sure you know the type.
I really don’t think it is because I am getting old and cranky, although I suppose reading this you might think it the case. At least I hope that is not the case.
I just think that in a commercial setting, clerks should be courteous but not invasive. They after all, are not going to be the person I invite to my son’s wedding.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that they don’t mean anything when using these terms of endearment; and maybe there is the crux of my problem. They are empty utterances which used in this context; only serve to reduce their intended meaning. If it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt, then perhaps over usage reduces their weight, for when they are uttered in true context.
We accuse teen agers of uttering the words “I love you” to their new found love of three weeks, of just using empty words. How can they understand what “Love Is”? Come on we have all heard it or perhaps thought it of our own children at one time or another.
Maybe the casualty of the over usage of empty endearment is that the meaning and the importance of those simple words lose out. Say it often enough and it becomes easier to say it the next time, whether we mean it or not.
Love and terms of endearment between people should be guarded and used appropriately for it to retain ALL of the significance that language has given it.
For words and language to have meaning they must be used appropriately. When someone says “LOVE or DEAR” it should bear all of the influence that was intended. Love is beautiful but it is also painful, it is funny and tragic, it is a powerful word, or at least it should be. When it is uttered it should mean more than “hey you”.
“Language exerts hidden powers, like the moon on the tides”
Rita Mae Brown