On Giving and Taking Offense

Heard something on the radio this morning. It wasn't a 'news item' as such, so there may be a touch of the apocryphal here, but here goes. Apparently, the bus drivers of Brighton and Hove have been advised - on pain of disciplinary action - that they are not to use term like 'love', 'darling', 'babe' when referring to customers.

This is based on one (I'll just say that again - 'one') customer reporting that she felt offended being addressed in such a way.

I can almost guarantee that said bus driver was not going out of his (or her way) to offer a calculated insult by looking at this customer and thinking 'I bet I can wind her up if I call her "babe"', and its has to be better than the surly grunt we get seem to get of so many bus drivers. Can you blame them?

OK, there are times when its appropriate to use one form of address over another. I would expect to be addressed as 'sir' in most shops, but on the street, I bump into somebody (or vice versa) 'mate' is perfectly acceptable, as is 'love' or 'darlin'. So I am confused what this woman who complained wanted to be called. 'Miss' is now considered an insult, 'Missus' is considered derogatory to younger women. 'Mzzzz' perhaps? Or maybe 'Citizen'?

Somebody posted something recently on facebook - I wish I could remember who so I could give them full credit - that very much addressed this sort of thing, and I support the concept totally. Isn't it long past time we all stopped looking for things we can take offence at, and instead decided to take offence only when offence is intended?

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