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Sir & Madam

What's happened to good old-fashioned courtesy?

You take the Hi! Road and I'll take the Hello road.
Have you noticed that simple courteous words and phrases like 'Hello' and 'Good morning' are fast disappearing from usage? What has happened to 'Mister', to 'Sir' and to 'Madam', and when was the last time anyone used your surname when addressing you? You can't remember can you? Why do people I've never met, and would never want to meet, insist on addressing me in their emails and letters as Steve? "Hi Steve" is now the standard form of address in emails, or, if I'm lucky, I might get a "Dear Stephen" at the start of a letter from some huckster who purports to be the Customer-Care-Team-Leader
of some hideous organisation. Anybody who has some tenuous commercial link with me, perhaps because I have investigated buying some thing or some service from them, seems to think that that then gives them the right to arrogate to themselves my friendship. Why?
I never give them any grounds for this: I don't address them as Sid or Jennifer out of the blue, unless they give me no alternative by withholding their own surnames. I am very happy to be friends with people, but I would like to make the decision about where and when
I will bestow that favour and then I will get the ball rolling with a "Please call me Steve." The trouble is that I can't remember when I last had any choice in the matter. All over the country, well, actually all over the world, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people I've never met, and would probably loathe if I did, who call me Steve, and I don't like it.

Even worse than just barging straight in with the familiar 'Steve', are the places - hospitals for example - where in a mistaken attempt to acknowledge that some of us prefer not to be Steve-ed and would rather be Mistered, they actually ask me whether I prefer to be addressed as Mr Williams or as Stephen. How do I answer that? "Oh do please call me Steve, I would be mortified if you didn't, after all every other Tom, Dick and Harriet does, whether I know them or not and whether I like them or not, and do you know I've long forgotten what my full name really is anyway." It's a ridiculous question and it's a redundant question: since the beginning of time the correct address to someone you don't know is Mister, or its equivalent, and that's it until
I decide that you may call me Stephen or Steve, and that's not a decision I'm going to make on first meeting and it's certainly not one
I should be making so that you can tick a box on some politically correct form.

And while I'm at it, I don't like being introduced to children by my Christian name either. Children show little enough respect to adults these days and encouraging them to think of us as equals does not help.

Mr. S. Williams

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