How did it come to happen that total strangers feel they have permission to call you "Hon?" Gas station attendants, waitresses, nurses, convenience store clerks, receptionists-- so many of them feel comfortable with adding "Hon" to the end of their sentences.
Sometimes I think I'm the only person alive to be consistently taken aback by being called "Hon." Hell, I'm 60 years old and I still call the parents of my peers Mr. and Mrs.! But maybe we are so starved for affection that this (basically meaningless because of overuse) word is OK.
I treated myself to soup and a sandwich out the other day and the waitress was friendly-- maybe a little too much so for my taste. I had to send my soup back because it wasn't very hot and she said to me, "Oh, I wondered, because, you know, I held my hand over it, and I wasn't sure. Sorry, Hon." Too much information!
I'm not a very formal person; when I go into a store to buy something, I usually say hello to the person behind the counter, smile, make some kind of human contact. On the other hand, if there's a customer ahead of me, and the clerk and he are engaged in a lengthy catch-up session about old friends, I do expect the clerk to say, "Excuse me, let me take care of this next person."
I want a certain level of unobtrusiveness from the person waiting on me. Sorry, when I go into a restaurant to have a quiet meal, I'm paying for the experience, so can't I have it my way?
Lest you think I'm just a snob, I've been a clerk and a waitress more than once. But as far as I'm concerned, bringing back the old-fashioned "Ma'am" would be a step in the right direction.
Waitress drawing. Photo Libcom.org