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I am not a very affectionate person.
Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I definitely am close with people, have deep talks or whatever, tell them I’m glad they’re in my life, and send them inappropriately crass cards on their birthdays. I show the people in my life that they mean a lot to me in my own way, affectionate or otherwise.
But I’m not one of those girls who wears her heart so unapologetically exposed for people to see, comment on, and exchange mutual, “OMG FEELZ” moments with and collectively jump up and down at our shared lovey-doveyness.
My intern, however, is a different story.
At the bright-eyed age of 22, fresh out of college with a fair amount of hope still behind her eyes, Natalie* is essentially a walking billboard for all things happy, excited, and optimistic. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a huge part of why I hired her. She’s so excited to be at work, to be in a (paid) job in her degree’s respective field, that she approaches every task with the amount of excitement that in later 20-somethings is only seen when they hear things like “open bar” and “three day weekend.” Any task I give her is done with a pep in that 5’5″ step and every “sure thing” email response is punctuated with a smiley face with extra ))))s for emphasis so I’m sure to know how PUMPED she is about it.
And I think it’s great. Truly. It being her unapologetic happiness and bubbliness and readiness to do whatever it is she’s set out to do on any given Wednesday. I really do.
Except… there’s one aspect of Natalie that is honestly driving me up the goddamn wall.
And that’s that she is a nickname chick.
We all know the nickname chick. Instead of referring to someone as, idk, their name, she ornaments. She embellishes. She decorates. She calls herself “this girl” and “mama.” Guys become “hun” and “champ” and “sparky.” Significant others become “love” and “sweetie” and “sugar.” Girl-friends become “guuuurl” (always overly and potentially offensively elongated even though they’re always basic white girls, let’s be honest) and “chica.” (Again – always a white girl.)
And, in my experience, we all become “babe.”
I don’t know why, but something about being nicknamed just really doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like an attempt to casualize our every interaction. It takes an email that’s all about pitching a huge client or sending a remote worker a new iMac from a place of business to the same as anything spoken about over vodka sodas on a Thursday. It changes the tone of a Slack from, “I should listen to this,” to, “Idk whatevs!!!” Instead of feeling like I’m at work, I feel like I’m pregaming for a Taylor Swift concert, and I’m honestly really not into it.
But I don’t know how to say it. I’m direct, maybe the office bitch, but there’s no way to say, “Please stop calling me babe,” without feeling awkward, no matter how bitchy or direct you may be. At least not in any way I’ve been able to come up with in the past 6 months.
So that’s where I’m at. Every time I open my inbox and see “Hey babe!!” in the subject line my left eye starts to twitch. Every time I hear those Zara heels coming down the hallway and a, “Can I bug you for a second, babe?” is heard, I tense up. Whenever we’re caught walking out together, casually discussing the impending evening in front of us and she says, “Babe, Mama is SOOOOO ready for a drink,” I fight the urge to roll my eyes.
Nicknames and me. They simply do not go hand and hand.
But I guess I’m just destined to ride it out. Eventually she’ll either be promoted to FT and given a different supervisor or sent on her merry, merry way.
And then she call someone else babe, and I’ll be free. And hopefully called by my name from whatever college grad I hire to replace her spunky, sparkly self. .
*Name has obviously been changed.
Image via YouTube