The Value of Terms of Endearment

A friend of mine works as a store clerk. She says she often hears terms of endearment from customers. They call her My Love, Dear, Sweetheart, and Darling.

I felt amazed hearing that list of names. No student has ever called me any of those names. One did call me King John. I liked that. A work colleague once called me American Jesus. That struck me as peculiar.

My friend told me that the main demographic for customers who call her those pleasant names is middle-age to older men and women. I fit right in.

Yet I never call a clerk a term of endearment. I thought hard about why that is. I decided that I lack the social confidence and the affection for clerks. In personality terms, I may be too low on extroversion and agreeableness. Also, I may be too manly.

I decided to turn my life around in this narrow behavioral niche and use a term of endearment with a clerk. I wanted to start with a clerk I knew. So, the next time I saw my clerk friend working, I said, “Cara Mia!” That is Italian for “my beloved.” Let’s hear the other shoppers top that.

I chose “Cara Mia” because Gomez calls Morticia that in the Addams Family movies.

I had told the clerk beforehand that I would greet her thusly, so she would not be shocked. But I feared that some Italian-speaking matron in line behind me would overhear me and box my ears. My fears were unwarranted. This time.

I do not know whether male clerks also receive terms of endearment. I bet they are called “Love” now and then, if they are not grouchy galoots.

I want to pay more attention to what other male customers say to clerks, so I can learn the Aussie behavioral script for my customer role. I could occasionally squeeze out a “Mate” with a clerk, if that is the usual.

Using terms of endearment with others may help boost their mood — and yours.

I had never heard the expression Terms of Endearment until I watched the Academy Award winning movie by that name. The film focuses on the relationship between a mother, played by Shirley MacLaine, and a daughter, played by Debra Winger. Watching touching scenes in the movie, I developed a fond association with the expression.

Maybe I will use terms of endearment more often now with strangers. You might too. Anything is possible, lovely readers.

 

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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