i Editor's Letter: Are we a nation of misanthropes?


Stefano Hatfield@stefanohat
Wednesday 03 April 2013 23:00

It’s fascinating to see which subjects grind your gears – or not. Dangerous dogs, that bedroom tax, the Philpotts (obvs), but more surprisingly, Simon Kelner’s call yesterday to be addressed as ‘Mr’ or at least with greater formality.

This came the same day as Katy Guest’s column for Independent Voices, railing against people for NOT calling her by her first name, even when she had told them that name. Perhaps, as Simon readily admits, it’s an age thing. Judging by the mailbox, it might just be a Grumpy Old Man (GOM) thing.

Take i reader ‘Jimbo’ Byrne, who rather objects to being called Jimbo, despite his signing off as such, and not James. Mr Byrne writes in to moan about calling his optician. He was greeted with “Good morning, you’re through to Specsavers at Hitchin, my name is Kerry, how may I help you today?” Which was enough to drive Mr Byrne apopletic. Judging by the rest of his letter, it doesn’t take much.

Well, Kerry in Hitchin Specsavers: how very dare you? How dare you be a friendly, polite human voice willing to please and based at the actual place Mr Byrne was calling rather than being an automated message, or a call centre in Paisley or Delhi? According to Mr Byrne and the other GOMs, they ‘couldn’t give a monkey’s’ who they are speaking to, they just want action. Inevitably, this led to trashing all Americans for their ‘have a nice day’ sign off.

Give Kerry a pay rise! Have we got nothing worse to moan about than people being pleasant to us? Are we really that stereotype: a nation of Misanthropes? To use that other apposite Americanism: you gotta be kidding me!

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