A note of instruction to young women (the rule actually applies to young men as well, but from my experience most boys seem to just naturally get it, and for some reason a lot of girls don’t.)
Ok, here it is:
If you are addressing a person with whom you do not have a close personal relationship, but to whom you wish to speak respectfully – ESPECIALLY if they are older than you – the correct salutation is “Ma’am” or “Sir” – NOT “Baby” (dancing teen at Billy Bob’s) not “Darlin'” (clerk at store) not “Sweetie” (various) and not (oh my goodness) “Beautiful” as one cute little waitress, younger than most of my children, enthusiastically called me as if it were my given name over and over again! Every time she said it, it bothered me more than the time before. Uggh – SssssssSTOPPPIT! According to old school manners, it is considered rude to address a stranger with such familiarity. And even if you don’t put any stock in old school manners, it is still just plain annoying . . . condescending . . . stupid! If I were a baby, I might enjoy being spoken to like that, but then I would probably also grab your hand and stick it in my mouth. Since I am in fact an adult, It makes me uncomfortable. And it makes you sound like a prattling nincompoop. I know you probably think you are being very sweet or cute, but . . . no. I’m sorry, no. If you know my name, you may call me that. If not, then “Ma’am” will do nicely, thank-you.
Now that I think about it, I could probably solve this problem very quickly by just saying, “Please call me Donna” (or Ms. Hunter, depending on how formal I’m feeling.) But I didn’t think of that solution till this minute. The next time it happens, I will very sweetly say something like that to the little dear right away, but for now – I must rant.
And for something on the topic of young men who understand this bit of etiquette: