Honey, darling and sweetie piePublished 9:02am Monday, April 16, 2012
Column: Something About Nothing
“What can I do for you, sweetie?”
“Well, hon, I can take a look at that for you.”
“Darling, I have taken care of that matter.”
“Sweetie pie, is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Honey, you have a nice day.”
You might think all of those sentences were spoken to a man or a woman who is having a conversation with a loved one. It seems to be a conversation where one person is very well known by the other person, perhaps even loved. You would be mistaken.
Recently I read about a problem cell phone users were having with charges being added monthly to their cell phone bill that they did not authorize. Many people did not notice the extra charges because they don’t check their cell phone bill. Apparently this problem was now my problem.
One day last week I received a text telling me I was going to be charged monthly for this service that I did not authorize and did not recognize what it even was. It was tricky. The article I read informed people that answering the text with the stop message did not stop this charge from being added to their bill.
I immediately called my cell phone carrier. The conversation that I relayed to you in the first paragraph was the conversation I had with the representative of the cell phone company.
The representative lived in Alabama. The representative was a woman and she was very nice but her sentences were littered with the honeys, sweethearts, darlings, etc. I was not offended, but many people would be.
I laughed about it as I was speaking to her, but by the time I got off the phone it was a little grating to be called an endearment in almost every sentence.
I could tell this woman was not being offensive or condescending. I had the feeling that she was a friendly, exuberant woman who used these endearments on a regular basis no matter who she was talking to. It was a part of her character. So why was I questioning her conversation with me.
Her terms of “endearment” certainly were better than curse words that could have spouted out of her mouth in which case I definitely would have been offended and irate.
Did I want a more professional generic response such as we usually get from customer service people? You know the type. The customer service rep that reads a response written for them on a corporate page and do not deviate from it no matter if it doesn’t answer your question. That response gets an irate response from me too.
Perhaps the problem I had with this sugary customer service response was that I was not used to sugary. The only people that usually use the terms of endearment that Ms. Customer Service used are those close to me. So should I be offended? I have mixed feelings about that. There are more serious things in this world to be upset about than someone calling me endearing names.
We live in a world where curt is starting to be the norm. I get sugary and I do not know how to react. A few years ago my son brought a friend home with him. His friend was from Florida. This friend’s speech when he talked to me was peppered with “ma’am.” He was being respectful. Again I was uncomfortable because it was not a form of respect that I was used to.
As I remember the ma’am friend’s visit I thought about my sugary customer service conversation. I would have known how better to react had the customer service person been curt, used bad language or been a robot voice. I would react with disgust and anger. I am always prepared for one of those when I have to call about a billing issue with a large company. Apparently I am not used to nice.
Did my billing problem get solved by Ms. Honey, Darling and Sweetie Pie? It absolutely did. Was it a good experience when she inquired about our weather and teased me about living up north? Absolutely. Was I smiling when I got done with the conversation? Absolutely. It was all good and I felt better after I talked to her. It gave me a boost in my day.
Do I feel she should have been more professional? Probably. But had she been more professional I would not have hung up with a smile on my face, a chuckle in my chest or a subject for this column.
Thank you Ms. Sweetie Pie, Honey, Darling. I hope I talk to someone like you again someday.
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.