I started unloading my basket of shopping onto the counter at the IGA and said, ‘Hello’, to the young man behind the till.
‘How are we today?’
Fed up with having the ‘we’ thing again, actually, but…
“I’m alright, thanks. How are you?’
Ping. Ping. Ping. He swiped the shopping through.
There was no one else up at the counter, so I thought I’d give it a go. He looked bright and perhaps able to get it.
‘Actually, do you realize how offensive it is to say ‘we’ like that to an older person?’ I asked with a smile.
He stopped, looked at me, blushed and exclaimed, ‘I am sorry,’ with a question mark in his voice.
‘Yep. All my friends can’t stand being called ‘we’.
‘Um. What’s wrong with it? I didn’t even think about it.’
‘Well, it’s a bit patronizing. It sounds as if I’m in a nursing home or something,’… and you shouldn’t even use it there, I’m thinking, but didn’t say. I’m staying cheerful and a bit jokey. I resist talking about ‘we’ being a plural etc.
‘Actually, when you think about it, it’s pretty ageist language.’
‘Oh no! I am sorry. I didn’t mean it. Well, how will I say it then?’
‘ You could just say, ‘How are you?’ like you would to anyone. Actually, I think using the ‘we’ is a bit sexist too. I don’t think you’d say it to an older man by himself.’
‘Oh, no. It’s getting worse! I’m mortified.’
I really liked this young man. He absolutely got what I was talking about and was confident to talk about the issue.
I paid, picked up my bag and said ‘Goodbye. And thanks for listening to that.’
‘Good bye and thank you,’
Gosh that went well. Writing it sounds like a training exercise.
I see him from time to time and always enjoy responding to his knowing, ‘How are you?’