As I mentioned in my last blog, coming from a very formal culture – Germany – to a very casual one – the U.S. – was an adjustment. It was easier to address co-workers and supervisors in an everyday office environment – in fact, I found it rather nice that supervisors were much more approachable here than in Germany.
It was harder to get used to casual greetings from perfect strangers. It struck me as odd that the nurses in the hospital called me “Honey” instead of by my last name. Later I realized that they simply could not memorize all the patients’ names. I was even more annoyed, though, when one employee at the local post office called me “Honey” or “Sweety.” For a while I even avoided going to that post office until I realized she was gone.
Meanwhile, I have gotten so used to such greetings that I simply ignore them. It rubs me the wrong way, however, when store clerks go overboard with the – insincere – friendliness. Am I wrong in thinking that calling a woman “ma’am” is a perfectly acceptable greeting by strangers?