Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Mar 30, 2008 08:00 PM

Being addressed by servers

we went to a very nice restaurant tonight in Delray Beach, however the young waitress kept addressing us as ' you guys' as in 'would you guys like a drink' and ' are you guys done'?

Not to sound like a fuddy duddy but we are in our 50s and this girl was maybe 20. I am not her friend nor her age so I find it disrespectful. Anyone else feel like me or maybe I should loosen up a bit!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. No, don't loosen up. A - this is how she talks to her peers. B- she's been trained to "personalize" her service in order to get better tips. (she wants to be your buddy) C- this is how her generation was raised (BY US). D- management is most likely her same age, this is how she is trained.

    1. Note to servers: If all patrons at your table are not actually possessed of the Y chromosome (to your discerning eye), do not call us "guys." Please ask me personally "would *you* like another water?" or " would *you* like me to clear your plate? If speaking to the table, remember we are not all *guys.* If speaking to me, speak *to* me, not to me as one-of-the-table-of generic-"guys."

      To the OP, obviously this irritates me as well. Hence the post. I am probably in need of losening-up as well, but...I think I won't.


      11 Replies
      1. re: cayjohan

        do you think a table of older men would like to be called 'you guys' by any server either male or female?

        1. re: smartie

          i think NOT!

          query, would the same server SAY that to the older men's group?

          i can't stand the "you guys" stupidity. dumbing down america!! one of many symptoms....

          1. re: alkapal

            First off, I agree that the "you guys" address might be too informal and personal for a nice restaurant.

            But I disagree that "you guys" is gender-specific or stupid.

            In the English language, there is no proper pronoun (anymore) for the second-person plural. So in many regions, English-speakers began using words like 'y'all', 'yinz', and 'you guys' when referring to more than one person. You guys seems to be most common (I'm speaking only for the US.) I don't think many people using these terms are really thinking about it very much, just as they aren't thinking about their choice of vocabulary when they use the word "we" as opposed to, say, "Paul and I." You guys is natural, and often necessary. Perhaps it is also a bit of a regionalism, and perhaps wherever Cayjohan lives it isn't commonly used, but in my experience the term has nothing to do with the gender of the addressees. It seems always to be gender-neutral, despite the definition of the word "guy". It just means "you, and you, and you..."

            Until we go back to addressing a person as "thou" and multiple persons as "you", I believe that you guys and its variants will be sticking around.

            1. re: Agent Orange

              Don't people refer to multiple persons as "you"? I think I do that all the time.

              There is always you'uns :

              "A term used in southern and central Appalachia and adjacent areas to address a group of people. Is pronounced a number of ways varying from you'uns and yuns in rural Appalachia to yins in the Pittsburgh area. Supposedly originated from the phrase "you ones" used by Scots-Irish immigrants."

              1. re: MMRuth

                Well, sure. And the word ''you'' was originally meant to refer to multiple persons. Though since "you" also refers to the singular, it's often necessary to qualify that a group is being addressed as opposed to one person in that group.

                1. re: Agent Orange

                  Right - but if a server comes to a table with more than one diner, and asks "Would you like to order cocktails?", for example, I would assume the server is addressing all the diners. If I order the bottle of wine for the table and the server then asks "Would you like the wine to be decanted?" (not that I often order wines that need to be decanted!), I'd assume the server was directing that question at me. I guess I just don't see the "need" from a word choice standpoint to use "you guys", regardless of what I might think of that use.

                2. re: MMRuth

                  oh god, i hate "yuns." the use of "yuns" will make me freak out. my old boss in ohio would call us "yuns" and i'd want to throw things. i can deal with anything but "yuns."

                  and many people can deal with anything but "you guys" or "youse" or "y'all" or "all y'all" or being called ma'am or honey. it's usually best to be more formal and polite, unless the establishment is so informal that using formal speech would be completely ridiculous. i would say "sir" serving cans of beer in a $2 dive bar. and i was treated very respectfully back, and got great tips.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Not to worry - I agree - was completely joking about "yuns" or however one spells it - my family is from SW PA and my husband, who is not from the U.S., could NOT believe it when he heard that on a visit to the area. I don't mind honey from an older waitress - I find it sweet - but other than that, I agree with you.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      y'all have missed the point (ha!): "guys" is nowhere addressed (at least upthread). i am not a "guy," i am a "gal" if you're being casual. if a server in a causal resto says "gal," i am felicitously addressed. "guys" is still stupid in that circumstance. most particularly in an upper-end resto. what are these managers thinking?

                      is there nobody to respond to my query whether a young "gal" server would in fact address an older male group as "you guys"?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        "is there nobody to respond to my query whether a young "gal" server would in fact address an older male group as "you guys"?

                        Yes, of course she would and you know what?
                        They'd probably love it.
                        To their credit,. men are much less inclined to personalize things like this.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          alkapal, I'll respond with an observation.

                          My eighty year old father is one of a group of 50 -on-up men that meet every day for breakfast. I have been included in a number of these meals, and my observation of the "young gal" server (because it's true in the case) led me to believe she had professionalism down pat. Now, this is in a town of 250 people, and the only restaurant. But there was no "you guys" floating around. The (20, 21 year old?) server called each male diner sir, and called me ma'am. Service was what you'd expect from a small-town diner other than that, but the respectful address won my admiration. I know my father would not be happy to be called "you guys," nor would his cohorts.

                          I phoned my father today on this question, and he noted that generally the server cited addresses the table as "gentlemen," but she deviated because I was there ( the "ma'am").

                          I think that my toast and eggs were elevated by the pleasant cordiality. My father concurs; he hates being called "guys."


          2. It's common. I hate it. After much discussion, it seems that "guys" these days is a gender-neutral term for "a number of individuals". Although I agree with Cay - I always thought a "guy" had one of each X and Y chromosome. "You guys" is actually redundant in English - "you" is sufficient for addressing a number of individuals, although in this context "does anyone want a drink" would probably be more proper than "would you like a drink". "Is everyone done" is better than "are you guys done" but never proper, IMHO. There are other threads on this that go into detail why.

            11 Replies
            1. re: hsk

              It's common in both the American sense and the British sense.

              It takes so little to get past that little linguistic cop-out. "You folks" would even be an improvement. And I *am* a guy, and I *hate* being called "you guys" (though, to be fair, where I grew up it would have been "youse guys").

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                This is why "y'all" needs to become standard English. We need a real second person plural pronoun!

                1. re: mordacity

                  But "y'all" is singular. The plural is "all y'all".

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Das Ubergeek, that's my favorite quote of the week! :D

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Hm, I think it depends. I grew up in South Carolina where you was singular and ya'll was plural. I think in the "deep" south - think Mississippi, Alabama, etc - it might be different.

                      1. re: Antithesisofpop

                        I see from one of your other postings that you're in your early 20s.
                        That may explain why you didn't grow up hearing "all y'all" very much. It was never that much of a city thing to start with but the South has grown incredibly in the past 2 or 3 decades - mostly from "immigrants" from the Northeast and MIdwest. A lot of Southernisms are going away and Southern speech is becoming homogenized. Add to that, the influence of TV, movies and travel, and you don't find Southern accents like you "useta could."
                        I'm completely bi-lingual myself. I speak perfectly fluent unaccented Yankee - when I have to. Until I get bored with it.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          And don't forget 'fixing to go'.

                          I love it.

                        2. re: Antithesisofpop

                          I thought sometimes "y'all" was a mass noun?

                  2. re: hsk

                    That's very common lingo in the sports world. On women teams players are addressed as "you guys", which is a gender neutral term. On the basketball court, women teams also play the "man to man defense".

                    In a "very nice" restaurant, it seems there is a need for some wait-staff training.

                    1. re: PeterL

                      "guy" is not gender neutral, and i don't care about the sports world, with all due respect, peterl.

                      agreed on the wait staff training.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        I agree that it really isn't gender neutral.
                        I also agree that referring to a mixed group as "you guys" is not meant maliciously, but is just lazy language as Azizeh has said.
                        I have known some teachers at my school to refer to their class as "guys", it always makes me cringe when I hear it. It just somehow sounds wrong to me when adressing women/girls. I prefer "Ladies and Gentlemen" when speaking to "my kids"! I would think the same would apply to a restaurant situation, maybe you don't need to be quite that formal, but I pesonally would err on the side of being formal with people I don't know, than be too chummy.

                  3. I don't feel like people should feel disrespect unless you truly believe that disrespect was intended.
                    She's not trying to offend you. It's just lazy language. It's easy to do, like slang. If you're used to saying, "What can I get ya?" It takes work to say, "What can I get for you?" -Doesn't mean it's right, but it just means she isn't putting a lot of thought into it.
                    You can say something if it really bugs you, but it will most likely create an awkward situation and I'd avoid that, personally, unless it was something serious.
                    Chalk it up to an age difference, but don't be offended by it.

                    1. If they get my order right and give me good, (hell - if they give me adequate service) service they can call me twinkle toes for all I care.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Servorg

                        Couldn't agree more, Servorg.

                        I'd rather a friendly 'you guys' or 'yous guys' with good service, a smile, and cooperation than a 'by your leave Ma'am' and a rude, uncaring shrug.