BUD, PAL, SWEETIE: WHAT YOU GET CALLED THAT’S NOT YOUR NAME

At the end of the night, one bar patron is in the restroom, and the other is gathering her things. She leans over conspiratorially to me.

“So ah, what’s his name? I always see him, and he knows mine and I just feel SO BAD.”

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the restroom user is a bartender as well, and I know for a fact the two have weekly interactions. I almost don’t tell her; a wicked one-thirty a.m. mischief. But I do, because come on.
She starts some sort of word association game to help her remember. I give it a 56% shot of working. But if it doesn’t, there’s always “dude,” “guy,” “you,” or most disingenuously, “friend.”

The coffee shop where I write this — where I’ve written many How’s Your Morales — is not a daily stop for me. But it is a multi-times a week, have conversations with baristas about music, sit and write for a couple hours stop for me. I’ve achieved a generally good rapport by being friendly, but not over familiar, always tipping, and not taking up more space than I need.

But I know the names of two of the baristas, and I’m pretty sure none of them know mine. How can I tell? When dropping off my iced americano (a bit early for that right?) the guy said “here ya go, buddy.”

Folks on either side of the counter have a short list of terms they use for people whose names they don’t know, really should, and it’s far too late to ask. Here are a few of the most popular:

Bud: This one is generally applied to male-presenting individuals, often by the same. It’s innocuous, and doesn’t have quite the same East-Coast faux threatening vibe as “buddy.” (“I got your drink right here, buddy!”)

Buddy: I save this one for people I want to leave, or people that I truly love, or people that I truly love and still want to leave.

Sweetie/Baby: Only female-presenting, or perhaps very performatively flamboyant servers/bartenders/baristas can get away with this. I know people who don’t like it for a variety of socio-political and/or personal space reasons, but I suspect it’s here to stay.

Boss: “Here ya go, boss.” I usually hear this at bro-ier institutions. I’ve also seen a couple people do a quick start and say “uh, don’t call me that.”

My Dude/My Man/My Guy: This really is when someone should know you. Maybe you’ve even hung out in a non-customer capacity. But, at least in that moment, they’re drawing a complete blank and so “HEY! My dude! My man! Let me get you a drink, guy!”

Dearie: I hate this one because of how it sounds. Terrible mouthfeel for this word.

Sexy: This person will either lose their job immediately or never get fired.

In addition, there’s a few that customers who are clearly are embarrassed they don’t know much about me. Which is good; I prefer that. Still, I’m frequently greeted with:

“HOW’S MY FAVORITE BARTENDER?”

I don’t know, because I’m not your favorite bartender. Your favorite bartender you’ve probably gone to a potluck with, or gotten a Christmas card for, or at the very least know what to call them. I’m just a guy who makes a damn good old fashioned for you every few weeks, and that’s just fine, buddy.


Originally published at how’s your morale?.