I’ll spend more money if you call me “honey.”
I’ll drive across town to go to the post office where the person behind the counter, who’s younger than I am by ten years, says, “Hey kiddo.”
I’ve always thought that I could cash in bigtime on a 900-number. Forget about phone sex. This would be phone sympathy, with a side of sweet nothings. The callers would be answered by an African-American woman of indeterminate years and girth – who sounds maternal and substantial. “He said that to you? Are you kidding me? Awww, honey.”
In fact, the number would be 1900AWHONEY. Take my card number, and let the minutes roll.
It’s a cold world, and while I don’t want the equivalent of phony-celeb xxoo’s, and I don’t want creepy presumed intimacy, any spoonful of sympathy is like homemade preserves on my heart. Increasingly, to even the human voices I interact with, I’m a number – actually, I’m the last four digits of my Social Security number. This is for my protection. This is for my ease. But it’s not for my pleasure. For that, I want people to know my name and behave as if they’ve just been waiting for me to call.
It’s absolutely not the kind of sweetness that comes from long and genuine acquaintance. But no moment of human kindness goes unnoticed … heed this, order takers, veterinary assistants, and presidential candidates. A little bit of personal means a whole lot of power.