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    long in the tooth

    Do Unto Others, Before They…?

    by | 5 | Aug 17, 2014

    Portrait of male business owner opening diner door

    “Blah, blah, blah…, sir.”

    All I really hear is the “sir.” It’s the cashier at the sparkling new CVS who first catches my ear. “‘Course, she’s wearing glasses.  Maybe the lenses are fogged over and her vision’s obscured,” I consider. She’s mistaken me for someone older. “Honest mistake…could happen to anybody,” I mumble under my breath.

    Several days later, a new check-out person at Roger’s Fine Food and Spirits gives me the quick once-over and instantly coughs up the 5% Senior discount. Doesn’t even ask me if I’m a senior. Bernice, the regular cashier, always asks. I bet this newbie is giving 5% to everybody. “Ol’ Roger ain’t gonna be happy about her giving away all of his margin,” I tell myself.

    Two days later there’s a “May I take your order, sir?” At  Hooters for Chrissakes!  ‘Sir’yourself, I want to say — but don’t. But I wonder how she’d like it if I called her ‘Ma’am’?

    All this sudden civility is unnerving. Something’s definitely afoot. Methinks people are trying to tell me something. It’s been happening to me more and more of late. Like the young guy this morning: He doesn’t say anything, just holds the door open as I skitter on through. “Thanks, youngblood,”I nod.

    Then, this evening, I spot an old guy coming in, as I’m leaving the barber shop. “Let me get that door for you, sir,” I call out to him. As he walks through, he says “Thanks.” But, I note, he looks a little annoyed as if to say,” You, of all people should know better.” Me? I give him a wry smile. “You’re welcome, sir.” Got him before somebody else got me! I note to myself, “Hell, I feel better… and younger already.”

    ###
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    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.

     

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    • littlejohn

      Every time somebody gives me a ‘Sir’ I look over my shoulder to see if the Colonel or my Dad is standing behind me. After years of “Sarge”, “Hey you” and “a#$%^*(&)e” I figure the ‘Sir” must be aimed at somebody else. My gray hair doesn’t count.

    • Mark Maisel

      It is funny you mention this as it is something I’ve thought about most of my life, especially after my daughter was old enough to be taught manners. When it occurred to her to ask why, I explained that at their most basic, manners are the grease that keeps societies moving smoothly, or so it is hoped. She, as have at least hundreds of others, asked why I apply honorifics and gratitude to all I meet, at least until they give me reason to withhold them. My answer that the three year old who politely honors a request or serves me something, a drink, a shared toy, etc., is as deserving of that respect as any thirty, sixty, or ninety year old. I’ve never understood the assumed rightness of withholding such respect from those younger than ourselves and solely doling out only to those we perceive as “our elders”. Many children I’ve met have engaged me in ways much more deserving of respect than many of these elders.

      Thank you for a thought provoking chuckle on a Monday morning.

    • Eileen

      Nice piece, Will! And something we can all relate to. I seldom call anyone “sir” unless I want to be ingratiating, a rare experience. You made me think. In England we stop calling teachers “sir” when we leave school.

      If you interpret it as a reflection on your age, how to explain the fact that I’ve been asked when buying wine (a bottle or two) at Walmart for example, for my ID. I assure them I’m over 21, invite them to “Look at my wrinkles,” but they insist. What does it show on my driving license that they can’t perceive just by looking at a septuagenarian?

      I suspect they call you “sir” in deference to your dignity. Nothing to do with years. Stand up straight and smile.

    • Martha Woodham

      It’s not your age — it’s just good manners!

    • Nancy Melton

      I am so conflicted. In the south we like manners. But damn, I hate the constant reminders of my age. The mirror does it first thing in the morning and I don’t need another reminder. Ever.

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