Don’t call me Pal


By Chuck Woodbury
Calm down, Chuck, just calm down! That is what I am telling myself at this very moment. The reason is because a man has said something to me that made me mad! Maybe it shouldn’t have bothered me. But it did.

I was buying groceries at the supermarket. When I was about to finish up in the checkout line, the checker handed me my change and said, “Thanks, Pal!”

Don't call me Pal
“Don’t call me Pal!”

Pal? Yes, he called me Pal. I hate being called Pal. Pal is a name for a dog, but not a person. Now, if I were best friends with this particular person, he could call me Pal and it would be okay. But the point is, he is NOT my Pal and I don’t think he ever will be! I think that calling someone Pal who you do not know is disrespectful.

In this instance, had I been quick-witted, I would have said right back to him, “Well, thank you, too, PAL!” Then we would have been two pals.

Now that I think of it, where does the word “pal” come from? Is it short for something? If you say pal over and over again it sounds stupid.

And while I am at it, don’t call me Buddy either!

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I’ve noticed in the past 10-15 years, more and more strangers and young acquaintances have been calling me dear, honey, sweetie, etc. At first I thought that my changed appearance as I aged made me seem approachable or “grandma-like”. I started feeling more and more vaguely uncomfortable by these terms. Waiters, waitresses, hairdressers, and now my new Doctor calling me “dear” caused me to evaluate what’s happening. One concern I had — do I appear old, weak, vulnerable and, if so, could I be seen as a victim by some predator? Am I over reacting? My best friend’s daughter works… Read more »

John Sherman

Hi Chuck,
I am a long time reader, but don’t think I have replied to anything before. I agree 100% that being called ‘dear, honey, luv,etc. ‘ by someone I have never seen before is offensive and disrespectful ( I am 84+ yrs. old, so my opinion is probably considered obsolete by many ( most ? ) of the younger folks out there.
If ‘ thank you’ needs another word after it, ‘sir’ is quite acceptable, but unnecessary.
happy RVing,


I’m with you…same as “Dude”…especially coming from a millennial, it’s just disrespectful.

Wayne quick

“Don’t call me Pal”. If it was said in a friendly tone of voice I don’t see a problem. Get a grip and move on. Rather he called you Bro ? Or Dude?
You tell me what.

jim ellis

I dislike Buddy so. It’s my dog’s name.

RV Staff

Ha! As I read your comment, I’m petting my dog, Buddy, who is under my desk with his head on my knee. 😀 —Diane at


Welcome to WOMAN’S world … “Dear” “Honey” and on and on …

alan c smith

last comment, I promise. I am just totally shocked by this, I just never would have thought of something like this being offensive, I wish I could share it on some other sites. Having said that I am really curious to know what type of people get offended by something like like. I am from the south and stuff like that is common, so is it a regional thing? maybe just a bully type of thing where you don’t think anybody should talk to you at all, is it a liberal thing, they seem to be offended by anything these… Read more »


It’s the land of the OFFENDED, my word add being called “pal” to the list, this has to be a joke.


you seem to be a very grouchy, cynical man, almost everything you write is negative, if this is all you have to worry about you need to be counting your blessings.

Evans Givan

Seems to me you’re just a little bit touchy. Pal.

John T.

Where I grew up (western Pennsylvania), there is an expression, i.e. ” Call me anything but late to dinner.” People were expected to be polite in formal situations, or toward an authority figure(teacher, police officer, supervisor, etc.), but in the day-to day exchanges with others, all the formalities were usually absent. It was a place where taking offense was often thought to be just as “offensive” as giving it.

L ynne

While you’re at it, don’t call me sweetie, or honey or sugar, babe, girlie, girl, or any other similar names unless you ARE my sweetie, etc. you don’t know me, I am NOT your honey, etc. it’s condescending and waayy too familiar. I hate it, I want to snarl back, I’m not a girl, I’m a woman, I’m not your honey or sugar.


You said it!


Young lady is what gets me. I am not a young lady. You, the waiter, are the young man and if you think calling me a young lady makes me feel good, you are so, so heinously incorrect. Calling me young lady is calling out my age. It’s putting a lillipop in my wrinkly hand and patting me on the head and asking me how fourth grade was today. It’s a putdown, ya dummy. I think I will young lady your tip right back into my bag.

Carol Erlingheuser

Nora you just said it better than I could have. It’s such a put down, and makes me feel ancient and insulted. My doctor used to address me like that, and we are the same age!!! WTH!


Thanks bud or honey drives me insane.

Mark B

Whoa. Take a chill pill Charlie boy (and others below). Unless somebody is trying to intentionally offend you, just smile. In time you will be older and more cranky and spend most of your days shuttling between your room and the dining room. Your hearing will be mostly gone and you won’t care what they call you…hun, dear, Nate, you old fart or even pal. You’ll just hunger for acknowledgement and a smile.

Bob Godfrey

Once again it’s about respect which there is little of these days. Why couldn’t that person have simply called you “sir”? I was raised to call someone I didn’t know personally as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss before Ms became fashionable. When dealing with someone for the first time I address them as Sir or Ms out of simple respect but then these days people address me by my first name when doing business even though I do not know them because they were never taught to properly address someone as Mr. or Ms. in the business world. Times have… Read more »


I like them using my first name during a transaction. They have usually read it on my credit card or receipt. Sir makes me feel old (I already am) and using ones first name seems friendly.

Kim Pierce

And don’t call me “Honey” or Sweetheart”. As a nurse for the past 40 years, many doctors who came to make rounds or perform surgeries, couldn’t remember my name even tho we had worked together for years. They would use this euphemism. It isn’t so PC now, but some old timers still fall back on it.


“Buddy”, “Pal”, “My friend”, “Brother”, “Bro”. These are all terms used frequently here in my home province. Along with “Darlin'”, “Honey”, “Sweetheart”, “My love”. We do not take offence to these terms. I think that the fact that we are a large island with small population and for hundreds of years we have felt like family to all and sundry, may have a lot to do with this feeling of familiarity.


I have the same problem with a waitress calling me hun or dear


I don’t mind when they call me sweetie or hon. It’s beter than being called what I am, an old fart.




I really like it when a Waitress calls this 73 yr old Hon or Sweetie! Her tip immediately gos up! I figure now there’s a Gal, sorry I mean Lady, with a sense of humor. I have respect for all who have to deal with the Public.


You are being far too sensitive. Unless it is actually being used maliciously (and if you can’t tell the difference, get help), no harm is intended and you need to lighten up.

Cynthia Shute


Judy G

I get it! As a lone, lady RVer I hate it when someone calls me dearie.


You asked. I GOOGLED it.
Word History: The word pal comes from the Indic language of the Romani people. First recorded in English in the second half of the 1700s, pal was borrowed from a Romani word meaning “brother, comrade,” which occurs as phal in the Romani spoken in England and phral in the Romani spoken in continental Europe.

terry okeefe

how about “El Conquistador ” instead???


Listen pal I have a more important topic. How can we get this logging in to the forums to persist when we visit the comments section of an article.

It would be a real help if we could get that figured out buddy.



Hay chief, I agree. Let’s get this “login” thing fixed. It’s a pain in the “Pal”

Charles Andrews

OMG….lighten up….you could be called a lot worse by people who actually know you….as long as it’s not a disrespectful remark….you can call me anything if it’s friendly


Hmmm….. I thot’ this site was for Rv related content!

RV Staff

Hi, Doug. This post is in the category “Editor’s Roadside Journal,” which appears in the weekly RV Travel Newsletter with the caveat/disclaimer: “Not necessarily about RVing topics.” Most of our readers enjoy Editor Chuck Woodbury’s musings. He has a lot of interesting stories to tell and finds some intriguing topics to write (or vent) about. It’s fun to see what he comes up with next! 😀 —Diane at


My sons name is Andrew. He had a teacher in elementary school that called him Andy. After telling her several times his name was Andrew he started ignoring her. She took him to the principle who asked him what was the problem. Andrew answered, “she keeps calling on some kid named Andy. My name is Andrew.” The principle told the teacher to call him Andrew or to not expect him to answer. “Dear” is used a lot in southern NV and drives me crazy but being from the south I’m used to “sweetie” and “honey”. Eh no big deal.


I have never taken it quite that far but my name is Nathan I do not like it when people presume that they can call me Nate. I do allow those close to me to use it so I am put off when someone I just met gets so familiar with me.

fred ford

how about home slice?

RV Staff

Ha! I just learned a new term. Thanks, Fred. 😀 —Diane at


Got it, Sir…….

Skip Gimbrone

Whoa methinks you are being a little touchy

Captn John

I thought I was the only one that Pal, Buddy, and Bro was found irritating as hell!

Mike Sokol

Occasionally someone would call me “Sparky” right after an electrical panel or wiring I was working on shorted out and made a LOT of sparks. So I didn’t like it a lot of the time. But “Sparky” is the official slang name for the electrical guy at a concert hooking up the power to the generators so Beyonce’ can do her halftime show, or whatever. So, I’ve been call “Sparky” a lot of times when nothing was actually sparking. Good thing, as I would have been fired a long time ago.

John Koenig

I understand your annoyance. You and I are simply from a different age when parents, grandparents and other adult family members instilled MANNERS and CIVILITY in young people. Sadly, in too many areas, respect and courtesy are unknown to young parents who are then, unable to pass these simple but essential traits onto their children. A pet peeve of mine is when I say “thank you” to a person (usually a younger person) and, IF they reply, instead of “you’re welcome” mumble “no problem” (or other equally inappropriate response). People who extend simple courtesies to me (holding a door, allowing… Read more »

Lucy Milelli

We’ve always taught our sons to address people as “Sir or “Ma’am” as we were taught. Although, some women are offended by ma’am. Holding the door for anyone, and to say please and thank you, were a part of that training also. I’m with Chuck on the Pal thing. I do not like “no problem” as well. Whatever happened to you’re welcome?

john l zimmerman

how about chum?

Marc Ornstein

Or Dude. Please don’t call me Dude.


Oh boy—NOW you’ve done it!


Pal in the south is a way of saying friend. Since you undoubtedly don’t wear a name tag just be glad someone speaks to you in a friendly term. As far as Honey and sweety are concerned its the same thing. When service people see different people all day and do not know their names at least they are speaking to you with a term of endearment or friendship. Since you give the RV industry such a well deserved hard time I would never think one little word would get your blood pressure up so. I hope we never meet… Read more »


How about just using Sir or Ma’am or Miss and please and thank you? Thank you Sir or have a nice day Sir….. My parents were from the South and respect and politeness to others were ingrained into my upbringing from the time I uttered my first word. I would never in my life disrespect anyone by referring to them as Pal or any other version of assumption of familiarity. That is just plain rude and ill-mannered.


What about addressing women, I usually use Ma’am but somebody on here is offended by that as well. what is the proper to get a woman’s attention?


i agree with you, wish they would wear a t-shirt so I would know not to speak to them

Phil Justis

I raced sports cars with a fellow for years and he couldn’t remember your name so he called everyone ‘guy’. It irritated the hell out of me.


The word pal comes from the Indic language of the Romani people. First recorded in English in the second half of the 1700s, pal was borrowed from a Romani word meaning “brother, comrade,” which occurs as phal in the Romani spoken in England and phral in the Romani spoken in continental Europe. The Romani speak an Indic language because they originally migrated to Europe from the border region between Iran and India. In other Indic languages we find related words meaning “brother,” such as Hindu and Urdu bhāī, and they all come from Sanskrit bhrātā, which in turn traces its… Read more »

Tommy Molnar

I think, “C”, that this comes under the heading “Too much information” for a simple word. I think if I see a smile from someone calling me something other than my name (which they obviously don’t know), I’m good. Facial expression and tone of voice do it for me.


I get call Hon, Honey, sweeties, usually at a diner, no big deal. They are just trying to be friendly.
You should be honored that they feel comfortable calling you pal.

Scott Rossell

Perhaps you should wear a name badge. Until then, the random acts of kindness in referring to you by name as anything other than “grumpy”, “jerk” or “schmuck” should be warmly embraced, Peaches.


That’s a great reply, I like it. LOL

Becky Nicholl

We ladies get called “sweetie” and “honey” all the time. I don’t like it but I understand that the person saying it they meant no harm. They were merely being kind. So don’t worry so much about being called “Pal”.


I agree! I call just about everyone “Honey” – not sure when/where/why, I just do… I HATE being called ma’am! I think we all just need to get over it; we COULD be called much worse?!

Garry Hammond

Just don’t call you late for dinner… …right? 🙂

“Brother” seems to be a newer term of endearment for those you are not even remotely related to.

Peter C McDonald

After 35 years of her life, I finally realized the missed opportunities to call my niece Rebecca, Becky! I have started doing that. She gets red in the face but I tell her, “Becky” is the fun one! It makes her laugh!