Monday, December 12, 2005

Don't call me buddy, pal.

For the second time in two weeks a certain client has referred to me as ‘buddy’. Both times, I’d just put forth an argument which had crushed his. Both times my tone walked the tightrope between diplomatic and patronising (erring towards the former was a particular challenge). And, both times the client ended the conversation with ‘thanks buddy’. I hate being called ‘buddy’, and hate even more being called it by someone younger than me. I find it a derogatory term, and I can only presume that is why he used it when thanking me. He obviously wasn’t going to say “thank you for proving my argument was not well-thought out, and for also doing this in a public forum with my superiors.”

I mentioned this to a few of my colleagues, and the general response was they felt ‘buddy’ wasn’t necessarily negative. I beg to differ:

- 10 year old boy helps dad in the garden, does a poor job of it, but Dad nonetheless says ‘thanks buddy’. It was said in good spirit, but was dismissive of his efforts – and of course, the boy is blissfully unaware of this.

- 13 year old boy grabs a few beers from the fridge for Dad and his mates. “Thanks buddy”. Boy has a sip of his Dad’s. He has another, then Dad says “That’s enough for you buddy”.

- Apprentice mechanic hands the tradesman a shifter. “Thanks buddy”. Maybe next time he’ll get to have a go himself, but he’s not quite ready yet.

To set a context for where this term is used, I guess it always involves the following:

1. You’re referred to as ‘buddy’ by someone older than you.

2. You’re in a situation where you’re not quite old/competent enough yet.

3. You’ve done something to help, with good intentions.

So I guess what grated on me most was the client is younger and that I am more competent than he. At least I did help him, even if it involved bruising his ego. So, don't fucking call ME buddy, pal.

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