Is ‘guys’ an offensive form of address?

I live in Seattle, and the reputation that we are cooler, more casual, and less ‘obnoxious’ (unless we are talking football) than other areas of the country is sometimes well deserved.  However, as this little blurb that appeared today in the Seattle Times, the polar opposite is also true.

In the Rant and Rave column, this gentleman well, rants, over the behavior of his server in (apparently) more than one unnamed restaurant:

“To the wait staff in supposedly sophisticated restaurants who habitually address my wife and I as “guys” as we sit down to dine. I assume they’re not blind and this insulting address is part of Seattle’s legendary and puerile informality. How gauche! Next time this happens we’ll call out the fool and leave.”

First off, I want to thank this gentleman for today’s self improvement; I had to look up the word ‘puerile‘ to determine that this person considers informality ‘childish, silly and trivial.”  How Downton Abbey of him! But to the point, is using the word ‘guys’ really insulting?

Officially no.  According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘guy’ used as described above is perfectly correct.  The actual definition: “used in plural to refer to the members of a group regardless of sex” fits this scenario. That being said, as a server, I have to admit I would probably not use the word, unless I was addressing a particular demographic, say 20-something males at a sports bar, casual dinner, or otherwise obviously just having a good time.  If it was the same 20-something men at a business or formal function, I would say gentlemen, and if it was a mixed group…this is where the northern climes of the United States have a distinct disadvantage compared to our southern cousins, as in: What is the northern equivalent of y’all? Or folks?  To say either of these words north of the Mason-Dixon line is to invite a query about your ancestry, and if you don’t have answer that includes southern heritage, some odd looks.

For the particular situation above, that so incensed this “ranter”, I would probably just use the collective you, as in, “What brings you in tonight?”  Said to the table, with eye contact to both individuals, shouldn’t cause any outrage.

All that being said, is “guys” really insulting?  Emphatically no.  It may be a bit lazy, socially speaking, and there may be situations where an alternative is definitively the better way to go, but guys (see what I did there), in today’s social and etiquette environment, guys is a more than acceptable stand-in for addressing a mixed group.

What are your thoughts on this?  Please start a conversation in the comments!



It Must be Sunday…

…which is football day in The PRIMcess’s house.

And this week’s big story is the bullying of Jonathan Martin by Richie Incognito down in Miami.    Of course, this is an incident between two grown men that weigh 300 pounds, so labeling it with something we now think of as the provenance of middle school kids might be a mistake.  Martin was harassed.  The question, I suppose, in the macho NFL, was if Incognito went over the line.

The NY Times, as always, has an interesting take on the situation.

My thoughts?  Above the constant harassment that Martin went through, what does it say about the people in Miami when a white guy comes into a locker room that, by my guess, is at 60-70% African American and throws around the n-word like its cool?   Above manners, above etiquette, above civility, that word is loaded with history, all of it bad.  Especially bad in the mouth of a white man in the south.

What do you think?  Is this part of sports?  I would love to see your comments.

Manners in the News: Should Corporations Have Etiquette?

Hmmmmm…..I think most people these days think no.  This is the time of no brand loyalty, everyone in it, companies and consumers alike, for the bottom line only.

What if a customer had been your client for over 60 years?  What if this client had been with you as the built and grew, became a force in life, and is now on the decline of their years?  What if this customer had been with you through mergers and name changes?  Do you owe this customer anything?

Read this article about a local woman who has been with the same bank since 1951:

Let me know what you think.  Does this big ol’ bank owe this client anything?  Does this client have any right to expect different behavior?  Let me know what you think in comments.