Honey, sugar, baby, sweetie …


So I’m sitting in Cosi, the spot where I often come to report and write (Sadly, today it’s the spot I’ve come to transcribe tapes. If you’re an aspiring book writer, and you’re under the impression that it’s all joy joy fun fun, well, it ain’t.)

Anyhow, there’s a manager here. His name is Rob. I might be off, but Rob seems to be a capable leader of the restaurant. It’s relatively neat, the service has improved, regulars come every day, etc. Best of all, he allows me to sit here for most of the day, purchasing little more than an iced coffee while abusing the bowl of free salty bread scraps. How can I complain?

And yet … it has been brought to my attention that big Rob calls many of the young women who work here Honey, Sugar,  Baby, Sweetie. Man, do I f%$#ing hate this. Hate it. So wrong. So, my question for y’all is whether I should:

A. Say something to the man.

B. Do nothing and mind my own business.

C. Write an anonymous letter.

Most of the women who work here are 17-, 18-, 19-, 20-years old, and they deserve more than some outdated schlub treating them with such disrespect.


18 thoughts on “Honey, sugar, baby, sweetie …”

  1. Eh, not a big fan of anonymous letters.

    If it bothers you that much, Mr. Costanza, you should probably say something; not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    (I know, I know, I’m mixing my Seinfeld episodes)

    You might end up losing your bread crumbs over this. I’d worry about greater issues, like that crazy person that is now stalking you after you picked a different winner in the “We Are the World” contest.

  2. If that’s the extent to which you’ve observed Rob’s Neanderthalic treatment of his young female staff, I’d probably stick with Option B. It’s not ideal, but the amount of harm it does is probably pretty minimal (especially if young male staff are similarly referred to as “Buddy,” “Bucko,” etc.).

    On the other hand, if your “it has been brought to my attention…” comment means that Rob’s name-calling practices are part of a larger set of issues, then it could be worth taking direct action.

    And alternately, you could adopt slightly passive-aggressive option D: Setting a good example, by pointedly referring to/asking about Rob’s staff members by their names in Rob’s presence (being careful not to cross over to “creepy guy nursing an iced coffee who knows too much about the staff”).

  3. B. If the young women who work there are bothered by it, it’s their problem to handle. It’s better they learn to handle it with a crappy job paying them $6/hr than when they’re doing something they actually like. If the guy is a putz and they can’t do it face to face without fear of retribution, then they should be the ones writing an anonymous letter…to corporate.

  4. You’re shiting me right? I work with women and called them honey or luv all the time and it’s never a problem. Hell, the Latina’s call me “Papi” and I love it.

    Really this is a joke right Jeff?

    If you’re for real, do the women seem upset by this? if not it’s best to mind your buisness or call a boycott like Kramer did with his strike of H & H Bagles

  5. It strikes me as strange to handle mistreatment or unequal treatment of women by responding as if we can handle the problem better than they can themselves. Maybe I’m off on this, but it seems like unequal treatment from a different angle.

  6. You don’t always have to be the hero. Just let it go and let them handle it – if it’s even a problem at all. For all you know, they like it. If they don’t, then they can stand up for themselves by confronting the guy directly or by going to someone above him with complaints.

    Wow. Is this post legit?

  7. Yeah – I notice it’s all guys giving you advice. Take it from a chick – it’s obnoxious to be called that by your manager at Cosi. Most teenagers won’t confront their bosses because a) they’re older and b) they’re afraid of losing their jobs. I think A or C. If you don’t feel like getting into it with this guy because he lets you sit there all day, my recommendation is an anonymous letter. Just say you’ve noticed it and it’s coming off as degrading. Especially “sugar.” Eww. Blechum. I think it’s nice that it bothers you and I’d be very impressed and happy if I were 17 and someone told my boss to cut it out. Because I NEVER would have at that age. But speaking from a mom of a budding teenage girl, I think someone does have to say something to him. And thank you for even thinking of it! You’re a mensch.

  8. I probably lean more to the left politically, but the white male liberal mindset really annoys me. The whole “we have to be offended on behalf of everybody else, even if they’re not offended themselves” attitude is not only condescending, but it’s just obnoxious. I do understand that some groups are treated unfairly in this country and aren’t in a position to do much about it. However, calling a woman “honey” is a far cry from jim crow.

  9. Jeff, I love how much this bothers you. As for the ppl who wrote if it bother them they should say something on their own, take it from someone who was once a 17,18,19 year old working at a similar establishment: not as easy as it sounds. Young women at those ages can be intimidated, scared, nervous, etc, at the thought of confronting an employer about such a thing. That said, jeff, probably best for you to leave it alone, unless of course it seems to be either out of hand or out of complete disregard for the fact they are young women trying to work and make some money. But such a nice guy to think about such a thing. Also shows exactly how bored you are with that transcribing . . .

  10. Hi Jeff,

    Here is what you do. Everytime you see him, say, “Hey Sugar, how are you today”. Say it enough, and it will make him feel uncomfortable, and maybe he will stop saying it to the other ladies. Either that, or douse him with your iced latee everytime he says it. That would be my vote, for what its worth. Seriously, I would just say “Rob, have you ever considered that the women find it offensive when you call them that?”

  11. I wouldn’t ruin a good thing. If he allows you to sit in his store all day, and doesn’t bother you, then i would grin and bear it. You wouldn’t want to start a littel war, where he super glues your chair or spices your drink when your not looking.

  12. I would not talk to the manager. I would talk to the service people on the qt, if possible, ask them if they are bothered by what the manager calls them, and if they are I would tell them what I think their options are and what the possible ramifications are if they chose to pursue them. The servers may not be aware of their rights, considering their job history/ages.

  13. I am a professional woman, well over the age of 17, and I still have to deal with this. Most commonly it comes from lawyers and police officers, even when I introduce myself as “Dr.” and then say “You can call me Toxigal”. MD’s and fellow toxicologists, on the other had, call me “Dr.” even after I tell them to address me by my first name. Often, when I do say something, and the men act like I’m making an unreasonable request. Or worst, they stop addressing me altogether and only talk to my male colleagues, whom they never call “honey”.

  14. I too love that this bothers you… Women don’t like it, generally speaking, unless you have an unusually close and special relationship. And in the workplace, it’s best to avoid any contact with HR over something like this.

    I like Nate’s answer, and asking the female employees if it bothers them. I wouldn’t worry about getting booted out of the place, I’m sure there’s somewhere else you can sit all day and nurse one drink.

  15. Hate to side with the white guys, but I’ve been called hon, love, sweetie. And worse. And you know what? I still don’t need the knight on the white horse to save me. Call him sweetie and look him up nd down if you must. And then look for a new place to write. BTW, my sister is a world-class transciber. Xxoo martha

  16. A lot depends on how old the guy is and what tone he’s using. When I first started out working full time at a permanent job back in 1991, I worked with a man who would use words like girl and honey. Some had issues with it, but he was one of the few willing to be a mentor to younger employees, both male and female. He taught me quite a bit about both the business and office politics. I use that knowledge to this day and I’m grateful he took the time to mentor me and others.

    He was an older man from a different generation, so I never made an issue of it when he called me girl or honey. He never did it in a disrespectful tone of voice. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s doing it in a disrespectful voice. Believe me, when a guy did it in a disrespectful tone, I put him in line right away by using similiar language with him. If it had been me, you wouldn’t have had time to think about it because I would have taken care of it.

    I’d say err on the side of caution by not using it yourself. But if the young women working there have a problem with it, it’s their issue to handle unless they’re specifically asking you for help.

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