UNIT 8:Making an Apology
Integrated Skills Development
Passage Addressing the First-Name Custom
The first-naming is almost always done by people young enough to be our children. Last year, I sprained my ankle on my way to work, and when I hobbled to a doctor's office, the young receptionist called my turn, saying, "This way, Tom." I noted a paradox when the doctor, who was almost exactly my age, said: "That's a very serious sprain, Mr. Middleton."
This form of address is common not simply in doctors' and dentists' offices, but almost everywhere. At a local bank the other day the young woman who was dealing with me, after checking my name out on the withdrawal slip, wished me "Merry Christmas, Thomas."
Doctors' and dentists' assistants seem to be a little uneasy to call me "Tom", though. Perhaps I got a glimpse of the reason for this a few months ago when at a party, I met a young man who had recently become a doctor. He told me that he had been taught in school that, as a doctor, he should call his patients, no matter what their age, by their first names, but that they should address him as Dr. Gilbert. That would gain him respect, he'd been told. We involved the entire party in the discussion, and, not surprisingly, everyone over 40 expressed great displeasure at being first-named by people whose first names they didn't even know. One lady, who had been introduced as Patty, said she was particularly annoyed at being called "Patricia". "No one has ever called me Patricia," she said, "except my mother when she was angry about something."
That must be especially irritating—to have strangers call you Patricia, or Margaret, or Elizabeth when every one who knows you calls you Pat, Patsy, Patty, Trish or Tricia; Meg, Maggie, Peg or Peggy; Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Betty or Betsy.
Most of us are timid about being thought stuffed shirts or pompous asses if we ask to be called Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Lastname instead of our first names, but the irritation is widespread, and we really should speak up.
Over the years, I've heard from many ladies who've described what they regard as a thoroughly humiliating experience. Typically, these letters say, "Last week, I saw a doctor who was about the age of my grandson. This young man, whom I had just called, 'Dr. Jones,' said, 'Adelaide, climb up here, and we'll see about that pain in your shoulder.' You can hardly imagine what reactions I had, while I was dressed in one of those awful gowns they have. The whole experience is insulting, and the 'Adelaide' from this youngster was insufferable. 1 felt like calling him 'Sonny' or 'Junior,' but my upbringing prevented me."
New Words and Expressions
get a glimpse of
One evening a burglar broke into a house in Paris. He went into the living room and stole two pictures. Then he went into the kitchen, and saw some cheese. He was hungry, so he ate all the cheese. Next he saw two bottles of champagne. He was very thirsty, so he drank both bottles. Then he felt sleepy. He went upstairs for a rest, but he was tired and fell asleep. When he woke up the next morning, there were four policemen around the bed.