Pinky Pie

Oh Dear & Me

Posted on: March 1, 2010

Dear Me.

Oh, Dear Me.

Dearest One.


Dear Old Mom.

Dear Old Me.


I love everything about the cancer center where I go except for two things:

  1. I have the need to go there.
  2. Increasingly, I have been called “dear” by staff – all with the best of intentions.

I hate to be called dear. It seems so old, like I’m someone in my 80s. So I’m trying to say – nicely – “Please call me Sue.”

The first time I mentioned it, this person was really apologetic. “Did I call you that?” he asked. “I’m sorry. It sounds so condescending.”

Yes it does.

So he doesn’t call me dear but there have been at least four others who have.

The radiation oncologist calls me Mrs. Hessel, which is my mother. I asked him to call me Sue and he said he would try, but it’s the Mayo way to be formal.

I am not formal.

Of course being in Wisconsin, it’s possible that all these people meant “deer.” I should have worn blaze orange.

I try to make a joke out of it – call me “honey,” “sweetie,” whatever, but please don’t call me dear. I really do prefer being called Sue by everyone.

Of course with me bringing up this dear thing, I may no longer be dear at all to them. I may be called “bi….”


22 Responses to "Oh Dear & Me"

aieeee! hey, I have earned the Bitch of Courage Badge in several environments because I objected to what people called me…let’s see, about 13 years ago, a mature man called me YOUNG LADY! I was about 10 years younger than he appeared to be, but who ever knows how old or young someone is these days? So, I flipped my hair back to show off all the gray I guess gets obscured by the brownish frizz, and told him to call me BITCH before he calls me YOUNG LADY. OMG. That poor truck driver guy…how unfair of me, a radical feminist from the wilds of Manhattan, SF, Berkeley, suddenly finding herself in a very very very small town, pelted by names I sincerely thought had died with the seventies…but no…

I allow a few people to call me DEAR, and they include my husband of 20 years and a childhood friend…and everybody else can just call me by my goddam name…the problem is, these people can’t spare the neurocircuits to remember names! They can’t spare the neurocircuits! But which is worse, DEAR or MA’AM? Which is worse, being called MA’AM or someone on the bus giving you their seat????????????

But, know what, Sue/Pinky? I’m happy you’re kvetching about this! As my mother used to say: This should be your worst problem. And I know I don’t have to translate that from the Yiddish for you…

Actually, I know so little Yiddish that you better translate for me. 🙂
I can’t flip my hair back the way you did – although I have this wonderful soft downy hair coming in – all white of course.

Dear is more condescending to me. Have you noticed that young women today use “girls?” I still feel uncomfortable calling anyone who is even a teenager a “girl” or “boy.”

Your post made me laugh because I too really hate being called dear! Once I had this really arrogant guy consistently call me dear until I started to call him Cupcake. He soon dropped the “dear”.

loool! people should stop calling you dear – coz i can tell its really driving you UP THE WALL!

What a great post!

People do not realize how condescending they can be when using what they think are “endearments”.

Your name (or how you choose to use it) defines you. You are a Sue, while I am a Susie. It is how we see ourselves.

I can’t stand the use of “Ma’am” just because I am a grownup.

Should you be thankful that they are not SHOUTING the word “dear”? LOL

Thoughts and prayers with you – and keep up the great attitude… Sue


Open up a can of whoop ass on them, but do it with love. 🙂

You are the reason why I Relay.

Over the past few years, I’ve stood beside many friends/family who’ve fought cancer, so, keep up the good fight!! Know that there are many, many people who stand beside you, wanting to help you fight this and I’m one of them. So with that said…

Why is it that people insist on being condescending in situations such as these? You’re still the same fabulous person you always have been, you’re just kickin’ the crap out of cancer. You would think that they’d respect your wishes or at least clarify how you’d like to be addressed.

All our best to you and your family,


Thanks to all for expressing your support. Thanks to all who relay like Tara, and thanks to all the folks who take care of people with cancer – even if they call me “dear.” But please, stop calling me dear. 🙂

Really, these are good folks. I was just using humor in writing about this. And everyone to whom I’ve mentioned it, understands. So I won’t be dropping an whoop ass soon. 🙂

Well, I meant “whoop ass” in the fun loving sense of the word. Like hug or lick ’em until they stop. 🙂

Never give up, never surrender!

I love it! My bane of existence is being called Ma’am. It creates an instant dislike for the person. These so called terms of endearment are condescending and generic. You go girl!

I can completely sympathize; I feel the same way about being called “hon” and “ma’am.” When someone calls me “hon,” it makes me feel like they think I’m some helpless young flower who can’t do anything for myself.

However, I think I’m guilty of using terms of endearment to others without realizing the effect. I will be more careful about using the term “dear.”

LOL… you sound like me! I don’t like when people call me sweetheart and love… Lakia will do! 🙂

Fun post to read. I try not to call patients anything, but just say things like “This way, please.” If I need to ask questions, I don’t use an identifier since it’s just me and the patient in the room. Some techs find that stand-offish, but I never seem to offend anyone.

(I posted about lucidity and ukuleles lately.)

Once when traveling in the south I raised concerns about the constant Ma’am-ing I experienced – I was told (with all sincerity) that it was a form of respect and demonstrated good manners besides. In less formal places I was “hon”-ed which I didn’t mind as much, and grew to enjoy to the point that we’ve adopted it as an occasional form of address among coworkers (with advanced permission of the “hon”-ee obtained by the “hon”-er.) Strange what can make you feel past your prime or young with spring in your step.

I still hear “girl” used for adult women, and can usually derail that train with “Is she old enough to menstruate?” Try it some time…

In England you’d be called ‘love’. ‘Are you okay, love?’ ‘Three sugars in my tea please, love.’ ‘Hey, love! You can’t park there!’ My boss uses it all the time when talking to ladies on the phone, doesn’t matter how young or old they are. I think it’s far too familiar to call complete strangers ‘love’! It makes me wince…

The worst thing I have ever been called was when I walked past a group of youngsters and one of them shouted ‘Hey, dad!’ to get my attention. ‘Dad’! I’m not even a ‘dad’ yet! And I was dressed in my trendy gear for a night out! I was royally cheesed off about that…

Anyway great post – it made me laugh – and I wish you all the luck in world…

As an Oncology nurse, I apologize for all of the “dear-ing” that you have received. I personally try to ask my patients what they prefer to be called. Working in Oncology, I know that I am going to see my patients for months and maybe even years so I might as well find out what their name is. I do not want to assume that a young man of 19 wants to be called by his first name. He may have a nickname that he prefers. Same as an elderly patient may not want to be called Mr. or Mrs. I work in the hospital with inpatient care. Like a prison warden, I figure we have already taken away all of your rights. We tell you when to eat, when to sleep, when we will change your bed and help you bathe. The least we could do is let you keep your name.

Lol. My friend speaks of the same thing.

Oh my. I can identify. Wish I couldn’t.

Of course, the random “honey” slips out of my mouth when talking with strangers…. I blame it on chemo brain.

Great post – there are more than enough indignities in life, so a name and recognition is so important. Maybe a big name tag next time with a Hi! My name is Sue!
Best of luck and keep laughing.

Dear Sue, I loved the blog. Congratulations on making the big time with it on WordPress. See you soon, Dearie! Or “Hon” as all the clerks and waitstaff say in the South!

Ha, that made me giggle – I have a real thing about being called “dear”, I can’t stand it! It’s odd though because it’s not an anti-endearment thing, I don’t mind most others like “honey” or “darlin'”. Maybe it’s because most people who’ve “dear”-ed me have been patronising so-and-sos …

I appreciate Michi’s comment very much. And…we are all in a prison of our own making, and if we don’t, as a matter of routine engagement, commit a few brain cells to learning a person’s name when we interact, then we’re all doing what Martin Buber named “I-It,” that is, treating everyone in our world as less important than we hold ourselves. I didn’t learn how to be a person from Buber, whom I read in college; I learned it from my mother who taught the golden rule. Sometimes she got it woefully, tragically wrong, but her belief in it was deep and true. As I recall Buber, when you “I-IT” your way around the world, you not only harm the world and the person you are turning into an “It” rather than a “Thou,” but you are also de-personing yourself. The equation is “I-Thou” and I believe he asserts that it’s a completely reciprocal kind of energy.

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