DEAR ABBY: Last night, on a popular television reality show, the host repeatedly addressed a 70-something-year-old participant as "young man." I have seen it many times before, of course -- young man, young lady, sweetie, dear, etc.
In my opinion, this borders on disrespect, regardless of the good intentions behind it. My parents actually stopped shopping at a local grocery store because the staff was always calling them "young people." They were embarrassed, and I don't blame them.
I know people are trying to be nice, but I wonder how many seniors feel the way my parents do. Can't people extend kindness without being patronizing? -- JENNY IN PASCO, WASH.
DEAR JENNY: Many people feel exactly as your parents do. You would think that people would be more sensitive, but many service personnel in their 20s, 30s, 40s and older make the same mistake. The way to combat it is to speak up when it happens, or, as your parents did, stop patronizing the establishment. (Nothing hits home like a sagging balance sheet.)
One woman I know told me recently how she handled it when a young server in his 20s called her "young lady" as he was taking her order. (She's 50.) Her reply: "Well, little man, I'll have the ..."