In the NY Times a psychotherapist was quoted as saying “I dislike the terms ‘patient’ and ‘client’.” She preferred to use the term “the people I work with.”
No. When I go to see a reputable doctor of any kind, I am happy to be called a patient. If I’m someone the doctor works with, then I’m a co-worker, and the doctor should pay me.
If I worked at Kmart I wouldn’t want to be called a Sales Associate. I would rather be called a cashier, a salesperson or a salesclerk, because these terms indicate a skill and therefore have dignity. “Sales Associate” is just a way of saying, “We won’t pay you a living wage but how about a hug?”
When I visit Walmart or Arby’s I don’t want to be called a guest. If I was a guest of Walmart then I’d be allowed to sleep there or at least enjoy a free meal. I’m a customer, which means I can expect service, and not a chocolate on my pillow.
I once worked at a magazine which kept inventing new titles for people, like Deputy Features Consultant and Creative Editorial Associate. Someone finally explained to me that while no one’s salary or responsibilities ever changed, they could now order stationery with their new title. If I was appointed deputy anything I would want a badge.
Whenever I’ve visited a modern, Google-style company, there’s usually a centrally located foosball table, a spacious complimentary snack room and curving wood desks with low partitions winding through a loftlike space, for the feeling of a progressive preschool. Everyone is always trying very hard to pretend that they’re not adults, working in an office. But they are. Because if you can be fired, you’re working in an office. And just because you’re using a Mac, it doesn’t mean that you’re not typing.
Two of my favorite sales-gentlemen on Home Shopping were just hawking Waterford Crystal bowls, champagne flutes and biscuit jars. A caller said that she now owned 104 seperate pieces of Waterford, and that she was celebrating her 45th wedding anniversary. The salesguys were stunned by this but then pulled themselves together and both blew the woman a kiss. One guy said, “45 years! I can barely get a date!” The other guy told him, “You can’t manage 45 minutes!” And the first guy yelped, “Stop!”