BY CHRIS FRYMAN
As a college student, I often find myself wrapped inside the conundrum of knowing that people my age don’t get any respect and believing that we should. On the other side of that, I know that a giant handful of people my age deserve little respect from elders, or even peers and I understand why I’m not taken seriously by the public or even by my own family.
It’s a complicated situation. To say that no one my age deserves respect would be unreasonable. Even on this campus, there are brilliant scholars, activists and just plain gnarly dudes that deserve common decency from everyone; however, the bad seeds that make everyone between the ages of 19 and 23 look like one collective ass have made me realize that respect, even though it should be given to all by all, is something that is often never even earned. Which is why I can’t stand it when people call me “sir.”
Everyone has dealt with it at this point in his or her life and people can take it in a few ways.
- “Damn right, you should call me ‘Sir.’”
To be honest, this response makes you look like a steaming piece of crap. If you’re like me and you’re a 21-year-old guy who’s at Festival picking up French Toast Crunch, strawberry milk and macaroni and cheese, you probably don’t have a right to force everyone to put on their best, fake manners when you’re around. This isn’t a direct quote, as even the college student with the greatest delusions of grandeur probably wouldn’t have the gumption to say this, but you get the idea.
- “Oh, they’re just being nice. I won’t think anything of it.”
This is definitely the most common response. It’s a term of common courtesy and people just use it to be polite.
- “Why the hell did you just call me that?”
This is often my reaction. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that people are being polite, it’s just that I can’t really imagine that there’s any reason to give me that sort of sign of respect. Honestly, I haven’t done anything to warrant that title. I’m not a doctor or a drill sergeant. I don’t have money. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Maybe I question people’s motives so much because I don’t think I’ve ever used “Sir” to address anyone in my life unless I was being sarcastic.
Dad: “Christopher, go do the dishes.”
Me: “YES, SIR!”
Or perhaps the better known, “May I take your hat, sir?” thrown in with a bad Patrick Star impersonation and a goofy goober smile.
Maybe I don’t like it because people aren’t that genuinely polite. Servers, if you were interested in actually addressing your customers, you’d ask for their names. You don’t need to address the people you’re serving to bring them their food. Cashiers, you don’t need to feign over-politeness to check someone out. Regardless of how or why you’re using “sir,” to a 21-year-old guy, it seems phony.
Or maybe I just don’t like it because I don’t want to be old. I’m 21. I like playing video games and procrastinating on homework. I worked on a golf course for the last two summers. I drive a car that’s over half my own age.
I like to remain anonymous. If you’re my server, you’re probably never going to see me again. You don’t need to know my name and you don’t even need to address me. I’ll always extend common human decency to people. A genuine “please” and “thank you” never go out of style and I do actually appreciate that you’d go to a job you probably don’t enjoy all that much to wait on people who probably don’t appreciate your time. I do, but I’m not going to force anything past normal civilities to show it.
If you’re around my age or older, let’s just call it even by being nice to each other and skipping the condescending titles.