by Jan Levie ©2019 A Handy Little Company, LLC. All rights reserved.
Why you should address everyone by “Captain”–it’s simple. Respect. My favorite son asked to stop by Lost ’n’ Found Youth ’s Thrift Shop (“Mission: Lost-n-Found Youth is an Atlanta-based nonprofit (501c3) that exists to end homelessness for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) and all sexual minority youth”), on the hunt for Guitar Hero the other day. We’d shopped and donated there before.
While he scouted for Guitar Hero (no luck) but found a $12 set of subwoofers with a list price of $699, I went to the restroom. That required assistance from staff. A lovely young person unlocked the restroom, and I had a sudden epiphany. I asked if there was appropriate non-gender biased terminology equivalent to ‘Ma’am’ and ‘Sir’. They said they didn’t identify as cis-gender and appreciated the question. They also told me that their form of non-gender specific polite address was ‘Captain’. I like that. A lot.
Next day, at a business luncheon, our server was a lovely young person. I said, “Thank you, Captain!,” as they served us. To which they replied, “Ma’am?” I told them the story (without subwoofers). They told me that they were going to start calling everyone Captain. They said even if it just brought up the topic and provoked a conversation, it was worth it. They thought I should write this because it is important.