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Saturday, May 18, 2013
What is in a name?Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at 2:57 PM
In the words of the play I learned my freshman year of high school, "What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
As I meet new people I always argue with myself on what to call them. Especially when it comes to women.
I am always so afraid to offend someone when I contact them for the first time to acquire a feel for their preferences.
As I was working on a story about Linton-Stockton High School, I had to call my old principal -- now the superintendent.
My boss asked me, "Do you call him Nick or do you still call him Mr. Karaszia?"
I thought about it for a moment, and realized I still referred to him formally as Mr. Karaszia without even realizing it. That is how he had always been known to me as a student, and the image of him being my superior stuck.
I have worked with the Bloomfield School Board, and I always refer to the superintendent as Mr. Sichting.
I just don't feel right calling someone by their first name if I only know them on a professional basis.
The major issue I have is speaking with a woman of whom I am not familiar. Is it Miss? Mrs.?
Another issue I face is a generational barrier. Besides education leaders, I don't know of anyone my age who is referred to by Mr. or Mrs.
There is an ongoing joke around the office about how I am still just a child. Will my contacts see me as rude if I don't refer to them formally because of my age?
When I was growing up, my mom and her friends only wanted to be called by their first names because formal references "made them feel old."
Whereas, my grandparents' friends were always referred to formally.
When I was helping teach second graders in high school it was strange to be referred to as "Miss Westfall." The kids got a kick out of me wearing a T-shirt with my first name on it.
"I know Miss Westfall's first name now!" one of the girls yelled like it was some incredible feat. She even called me Sabrina when the teacher wasn't around, and just thought it was too funny.
Is there an age where formality just isn't necessary anymore? Or is it just based on personal preference?
Sabrina is a reporter for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 847-4487.
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