|This is not me. Yet.|
It is a puzzling transition, and I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment when it occurred. My qualifications as a dignified professional are tenuous at best, and in the years up until now my relatively disheveled and haphazard way of being in the world hasn't made me a natural "sir", even in the eye of waiters and other service workers. High end doctors and lawyers get addressed as sir. I've always been far more anonymous in the world than that. If strangers addressed me at all, it was very rarely as "sir." Sometimes I'd get a "mister", but rarely anything more deferential than that. But in the last few years something has changed.
Strangers now frequently address me as "sir" during routine social interactions, even though nothing particularly has changed in my social presentation to the world. I mean, it's not like I started wearing top-hats and wing-tip shoes. The circumstances are telling and are evidence that, indeed, I am now firmly entrenched in the geezer demographic.
"Sir, you dropped your glove on the street." (A teenage boy crossing the street after me.) "Sir, you've dropped the other one now. And your scarf is on the ground, too." (Clumsy absent-mindedness is a central feature of my geezerhood.")
"Sir, your zipper is open" (I quickly look down at the front of my my trousers, but the young fellow then laughs and says that he was referring to the zipper on my shoulder pack, where my passport and expensive laptop are hanging out for the world to see.)
"Have a good day, sir." (This from the bus driver as I disembark at my office stop. I'm the only one who gets this treatment, and it's likely because, in my old-school background, I routinely thank the bus driver for the ride every day. This is not protocol for anyone younger than geezer age, I've noticed.)
"Sorry for the error on your tab, sir. Yes, you had only four shots of Scotch, not five." (Certainly the fact that I now pay attention both to consumption of spirits and the accuracy of my bar tabs is a sympton of geezerhood.)
"What did you want to talk about, sir. Did I do something wrong?" (From a young editor—all of whom seem fretful that older supervisors are there to scold, rather than just chip in their $5 for the March Madness basketball wagering pool.)
In any case, I've now reached that stage where "buddy," "pal", and "dumb-ass" and all the other appellations once heard from strangers have now been replaced more often than not by "sir."
And when "sir" begins, can "take it easy, old fella" be far behind?