Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: In your response to the woman who couldn't understand why her husband never called her by her first name, you quoted Dr. Will Menninger, who said, "The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your own name." Actually, it was Dale Carnegie who said that. You added that your former husband, an accomplished salesman, found that using the customer's first name was a good sales ploy. Please be aware, Ann, this practice is not acceptable worldwide.
In the Spanish culture, one never addresses a stranger by his or her first name. In fact, Spanish has two forms of salutation: the formal, which is used for elders, people of authority and strangers, and the familiar, which is used for friends, family and close associates. Using the familiar form to address strangers is a sign of disrespect or poor upbringing. In fact, this is the case in most European countries.
Even now, after 40 years in the United States, I find it difficult to address casual acquaintances by their first names. And many salesmen never get past the first sentence when they use my first name. It's not because I am aloof; it's just a formality born of my native culture. — E.M., M.D.
Dear Dr. M.: Thank you for a letter sure to teach many people (including me) something useful today. If any of you readers are planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, or any foreign city for that matter, I suggest that you remember this column.
Dear Ann Landers: I would like to contribute an item for your stupid-crook collection. This appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune. — June in Calif.
Dear June: It's incredible, all right. Thank you for sending it on. The story was reported by Joe Hughes. Here it is:
Two suspected shoplifters were arrested when they returned to the store where the theft occurred and asked for a shopping bag, police said. A clerk who saw two men taking merchandise without paying for it chased them out of the store at about 8 p.m. But the clerk lost track of the men and returned to the store to call 911.
"While he was on the phone, the two suspects returned to the store and demanded a bag for their loot," said a San Diego police spokesperson. Two officers were dispatched to the store and saw the suspects outside. The suspects were taken into custody on suspicion of petty theft and burglary.
Do you have questions about sex but no one to talk to? Ann Landers' booklet "Sex and the Teenager" is frank and to the point. Send a self-addressed, long, business-sized envelope and a check or money order for $3.75 (this includes postage and handling) to: Teens, c/o Ann Landers, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
ANN LANDERS (R)