Oh, Sweetie, No!

, , , , | Right | November 6, 2020

I’m female, and I have a habit shared by many people in the southern USA. I tend to use terms of endearment in casual conversations with strangers my age or younger.

I’m cashiering at a busy shop. A man in a suit jacket approaches my register.

Me: “Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

Customer: “Yes, thank you.”

Me: “All right, darling, your total is [amount].”

There’s a pause and the thud of the man’s hand hitting the countertop. I realize he is glaring at me, his face getting red. The line of people behind him is suddenly silent.

Customer: “Darling? Darling?!”

At this point in my life, it has never occurred to me that this could be considered offensive. What I say next is purely startled confusion.

Me: “Sweetie?”

There are a few chuckles in the line behind him, enough so that he apparently decides not to come over the counter at me. He pays and starts to leave. The next customer steps forward.

Next Customer: “Hey there, sweet darlin’. I need four books of stamps, please.”

There was a thunk as the exit door closed hard enough to knock over a small display we had sitting next to it.

I switched to sirs and ma’ams for a while.

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