Oh, dear. The only good thing to be said for my behaviour today is that I spoke my mind.
As I was shopping, an unctuous young bookstore sales girl came up to me and asked "Are you finished with the computer, Dear?"
My husband is allowed to call me Dear. My 93-year-old friend Kathleen is allowed to call me Dear. Anyone from Newfoundland is allowed to call me Dear. (It somehow doesn't sound so demeaning when said with an accent.) But otherwise just call me Ma'am or nothing at all.
And that is pretty much what I told the astonished sales associate.
I don't think she really understood what I meant and she probably thinks I am nuts. Perhaps I am.
But I hope she goes home tonight and complains to her grandmother that some mad old bird snapped at her when she was only trying to be nice. Perhaps she will get some advice about dealing with older customers. As in: "You are not a Newfoundlander, Dear. Just smile next time. It's safer and more respectful."