First Name.

I got two text messages from Amazon on my cellphone to the effect that a book that I had ordered had been delivered successfully. I had been at home and had not received any delivery from a courier and so got online to Amazon and went to their customer service facility and chose to chat online about my problem.

I was asked to wait till a representative came online which took a couple of minutes but when she came online, she because of the name, she started off by typing “Hello Ramana, how may I be of assistance?”

I responded “I am 75 years old Ms.XYZ. Do you still want to address me by my first name?”

She promptly responded, “Sorry Sir, how may I be of assistance?”

We proceeded to chat and she solved my problem for me.

Amazon wanted me to respond to a customer feed back where I have left my response to the effect that they should not use the first name system of addressing their customers.

Yes, I understand that in the West this is quite common and acceptable but in India, this simply is not. We are formal in our addressing of people, particularly so when it comes to strangers. You would notice that I addressed the lady representative as Ms automatically and instinctively.

I shared this story with another senior citizen friend who too confirmed that he found it annoying when total strangers addressed him by his first name.

I wonder what Nick would say about this!

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22 Responses to First Name.

  1. Big John says:

    I agree with you on this one Ramana. It is now common practice in the UK. It used to be the ‘rule’ that you only used someone’s first name if they invited you to do so. Such as when you introduced yourself to someone by saying .. “My name is Smith” .. then they understood that they should address you as .. ‘Mister Smith’ .. but if you said .. “I’m John Smith” .. It was OK for them to call you ‘John’.
    Mind you, It’s not as bad as when my wife and I are addressed as “You guys” when being served in a restaurant !
    Big John recently posted..‘Ginger Whinger’ to Wed !

    • I am surprised that a couple, that too senior citizens can be called “you guys” in a restaurant. Simply unthinkable here except in the case of some family situations where youngsters can affectionately use that term for their parents or grandparents. Even that only in English speaking homes and never ever in a home wher any of our local languages are spoken. There are simply no comparable phrases/words.

  2. It doesn’t bother me, probably because I have never grown up. 😉
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Bless Email and the Garmin

  3. nick says:

    As Big John says, using someone’s first name is now the norm in the UK. Personally I like it, I find it friendly and informal. If anyone calls me Mr Rogers, I find it rather odd. Jenny and I are also addressed as “you guys”, but that doesn’t bother me either.
    nick recently posted..Quite a stickler

  4. Shackman says:

    Your culture, your customs. Not an issue for me as I tend to be very casual.

  5. kylie says:

    As I read your post I thought of the number of times I have addressed you as Ramana. After that I quickly recalled that many of the immigrants my father worked with felt unable to call him John so he was frequently known as Mister John. It’s quite a good compromise, I think.

    “You guys” is a dreadful form of address though I am sure the people who use it are oblivious

    • We are acquainted with each other through our blogs and it is normal for bloggers to call each other by the names that they use in their blogs. I don’t mind you calling me by my fist name as I call you too by your name.

  6. Anna says:

    I have similar doubts as Kylie, but since I belong to your generation, could I continue to call you by your first name. I will be OK with a negative answer.
    Similarly, to Shackman my Australian culture made me comfortable with being called by the first name, but I must say I am often asked a question “may I call by your first name?” When I go to Poland then first name addressing is not on at all, sometimes for years and years. So, I am flexible here.

    • The same comments that I made for Kylie will be how I would respond to you too Anna. I straddle many cultures, here locally as well as overseas through my blogging and visiting other blogs as well as friends through email / facebook / whatsapp and so am quite flexible too.

  7. tammy j says:

    I remember when I first started following your blog and somehow I sensed instinctively that I didn’t want to overstep. I asked your permission to call you rummy. and you graciously replied!
    i live in an ‘over~friendly’ state in this country. it is not unusual for a waitress or other service person to address you as “what’ll you have young’in?” they seem to think that is a compliment to your age?
    “honey” and “sweetheart” are also common ways to address strangers here. it’s a southern thing and widely accepted and even more used the deeper south you go in America.
    there was a nurse the last time I was in hospital who kept saying “young lady” to me. “how are you this morning young lady?”
    I should have given her my Robert D impression … “are you talking to me?”
    the world is becoming super casual and the new generations are making their own rules. I remember finding it odd to read that using a period when texting is considered rude! but then I don’t care for capital letters… so touche’ i guess!
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

    • Being friendly is something that I would like. Being very casual and informal in addressing elders is not something that I would cherish unless like you point out there has been mutual agreement to treat the relationship in that manner.

    • nick says:

      Women in Northern Ireland are still universally referred to as girls, despite decades of feminists saying that “women” is more accurate and respectful. Ah well, maybe in fifty years time….
      nick recently posted..Quite a stickler

  8. Mike says:

    I have found it interesting that, with the current reactor operator license class, some of the students started out calling me Mr. Goad. I’ve always been called “Mike” at work and it was a little jarring to be addressed so formally. They are all younger millennials (aka Generation Y) in their mid 20s while I am in my mid 60s.

    Now, though, after I told them to “call me Mike,” that’s what they do, except for one of the “older” students.

    In the navy, it was fairly normal to address other sailors by their last name. I didn’t care much for that, but I got used to it. I’m not sure if this guy is ex-Navy, but I think it’s likely. More often than not, though, he’ll address me by my last name. (Interestingly, his name is Mike, also.)

    There’s several Mikes, short for Michael, in the Operations department, which is the group that we provide training to. One of them, though, is adamant that he be called Michael. He’s the only one that I’ve ever come across — and Michael is a very common name here — who insisted on that.
    Mike recently posted..Keep Smiling!

    • The first time that I had to be called something other than Ramana was when I was enrolled in a school for a few months as a stopgap arrangement. There was another Ramana in the class and so the Class Teacher decided that I would be Rummy as the other fellow had been in the school for longer!

  9. bikehikebabe66 says:

    I like to be called by my first name. I still consider myself more of a JONES (maiden name) than a SPRINGER (husband’s name even tho’ our families were friends & SO very much alike.) BUT I’m still Cynthia Jones. 🙂

    • Ursula says:

      Hi, Cynthia Jones, good to hear you pipe up again. Missing you and your comments. So please do pop over to mine – if and when I have something to say again.

      Like you I too like to be called by my first name (once formalities are over). I once worked with someone (British) who kept calling me Ingrid. To him all girls from the motherland (not least his first girl friend) were called Ingrid. Hilarious because one of my middle names is Ingrid. Made a nice change.

      As to maiden and married names, oh dear, I’ll post on that subject over at mine some time soon.

      Hope you are well,
      Ursula aka Ingrid
      Ursula recently posted..In search of answers

    • Wnen I first came across your web name, bikehikebabe66, to be honest, I was quite zapped. It took a while for me to understand the logic for that name and that your first name was actually Cynthia. Three ladies of the younger generation in my family continue to use their maiden surnames even after marriage while some have taken on the family name. As a family we are quite informal about that particular social requirement.

  10. Ursula says:

    I am used to it now, here in the UK. Took a while – both addressing my boss by her first name and/or, indeed, total strangers addressing me by my first. What I have noticed, and still find a slightly bewildering, that there are plenty of people who know plenty of people by their first name but won’t have a clue as to their surname.

    In the motherland this familiarity used to be unheard of; though, admittedly, in recent years, when going back, attitude seems to soften, going totally against the grain of how I was brought up. But you elders are still addressed formally. For instance, it would always be the older/more senior of two parties to “offer” the familiarity of first name and indeed, like the French, offering the familiar “Du” as opposed to the formal “Sie”. By way of example: When I came off age, my teachers addressed me still as Ursula but I wasn’t a Du any longer, I was a Sie. The Du being how you address a child, the Sie how you address an adult you are not related to/friends with (yet). Oh, Ramana, that was so funny.

    So, yes, I understand where you are coming from. Myself? Now? It’s all over my head. If I want to address a Doctor or a Professor by their title (oh, the English – don’t they just NOT like using titles) and their surname then I will do just that. At risk of being called pretentious. Whatever.

    Ursula recently posted..In search of answers

  11. I know that when someone phones and asks to speak with Catherine – I know it’s officialdom – but also a lot of ordinary businesses are starting to do what…(yep, it’s my official name), but I like to be basically called Cathy.

    One of things I can’t abide is similar to your Honey/sweetheart – but here it’s “dear” – “how can I help you dear?” I think what is the point of that extra…when all I want is possibly not be asked in the first place, because I’m only looking. Of course it’s a sale$ pitch. Or “is that all, dear” “do you want fries or a drink with that dear”… occasionally if it’s a foreign speaker they might say Ma’m…

    now when people try to pronounce my surname that’s hilarious – and especially when they forget that’s a 2 word name “de” is not my other christian name at all!!! And it’s a lower case “de” not an uppercase “De”

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