Amblin' Alameda: No problem, you guys

Amblin' Alameda: No problem, you guys

Morton Chalfy

It is now officially an epidemic. Wherever one goes to a restaurant - low cost, middle range or high end - the wait staff has taken to referring to their patrons as “guys.”

“How are you guys doing?” is an often heard phrase. “Would you guys like to order drinks before dinner?” is another.

Just when did an older couple become “guys?” It is so disrespectful, so demeaning. I know it's not meant to be taken that way. If anything it's meant to establish a sort of friendly atmosphere where “you guys” are part of the larger society of patrons, but it has the opposite effect on me and my sweetie.

“Folks” would be a much better choice, friendlier and respectful, but “folks” has withered from the language and has become a Southernism rather than an American way of speaking. Ordinarily I would blithely pass over this evolution of commercial speak but we geezers are being asked to swallow wholesale changes to the dining experience. Servers who see the world as the sole province of the young are not at all attuned to the lives of the old.

“You guys” refers to young people for whom gender differentiation is no longer as important as once it was in this world, not to geezer couples who begin their dining experience by repressing the urge to correct its usage. “You guys” is a proper way to address one's young friends but not one's grandparents, for goodness sake.

Another unwanted locution is the use of “no problem” for “you're welcome.” “You're welcome” is respectful and responsive; “no problem” is Aussie envy. When one says “thank you,” one is expressing a form of gratitude for a service rendered when in a restaurant. “No problem” as a response is beside the point. Whether it posed a problem or not is immaterial; the server's job is to overcome problems when they exist. “You're welcome,” on the other hand, acknowledges the expression of gratitude in a traditional (important to geezers) and respectful manner.

The engine of change is powered by the younger generations and that's the way it should be. In the past, the pace of change was slow enough that the old folks died off before they had to adjust themselves to it. Today, the pace of change is at the speed of light and we geezers don't really have time to change our ways gradually but must accept the disappearance of the old world from under our feet and grab on to the new before we're drowned in it.

Most of us have learned to operate computers and e-mail and smart phones and we can accept ear buds and distracted walkers and falling pants and unmusical music. We accept doctors who look like high school students and we welcome the opening of the gay world to general acceptance and to gay marriage and the rights of all people to privacy. But “you guys” as a term of address? That's going too far.

Now if the implied youthfulness that goes with “you guys” could be actually conferred by the use of the phrase - if calling me a guy restored me to twenty-something status and physique, why then it would be okay. But since it leaves me just as old but feeling disrespected - not the way I want to start a meal - I'd like to put an end to it.

It might even negatively impact my tipping style.


Submitted by Roberta (not verified) on Tue, Mar 4, 2014

I agree with you, but "geezers" gets to me! I just don't see myself as a geezer and that word feels disrespectful, too. Old folks, maybe, just not geezers!

Submitted by Doug (not verified) on Tue, Mar 4, 2014

Kudos to you Mort. My feelings also and having been in the biz I always paid attention to my address to my guests.