I work at a small college. I love my job. I love getting to interact with students. I love being around people who have dedicated a good portion of their adult lives to learning and want to share that information with others. I love that both my wife and I work at institutions of higher learning and hope that fact makes an impression on our son that we value education.
But there’s one aspect of my job that I can’t stand. I absolutely despise it and have gone on a one-person crusade against it.
I hate when college students call me “sir.” Hate it. Look, I get it, they’re being polite and respectful and all that. But it’s entirely possible to be respectful without saying “sir.” Come in, shake my hand and be attentive while we’re talking – that’s respectful. I don’t need the added “sir” thrown in there. I'm not that formal.
Every time a student calls me “sir” I do two things. First, I tell them I’m not that old. They usually laugh sheepishly and apologize and say they were trying to be polite. Then I tell them in about 15 years when some college student calls them “sir” or “ma’am” they’re going to feel old and also think back to this meeting and say “that guy was right, I do feel old. That’s not cool at all.” Invariably, they’ll forget this and the next time they walk in to my office, they’ll call me “sir.” I tell them “I know we’ve gone over this before, you know you’re not supposed to be calling me sir.” They laugh, I smile and we move on.
If it were completely up to me, I’d have every student who comes in to my office to call me “Luke.” It’s the name I was given and I imagine that’s what my parents wanted people to call me. Having students call me that would be, in a way, respectful to my parents’ wishes. But I understand that probably won’t go over with the powers that be. I begrudgingly accept “Mr. Luke” as a title though I really don’t like it.
I realize by writing this there’s about a 100% chance of people I know who read this calling me “sir” just to mess with me. But if it’s really about respect, you’ll respect my wishes and call me what I want to be called, “Luke the Magnificent.”