I’m going to try to cover a lot of ground with this post. I’m going to try to drop some truth and acknowledge how I am ignorant to certain ideas. I was recently at an open mic that was running pretty late into the night. Two gentlemen walked into the bar where the open mic was and the two men were surprised to find out there was any comedy going on (a common occurrence). They really just wanted a drink but came in anyways. They weren’t really paying attention to the comedians and were just having a conversation among themselves. This might sound rude but open mics are not the place to complain about actual patrons of the bar providing business to that bar. Also, to their credit, they were talking at a pretty low volume considering that they had just had a couple of shots of Jager.
Not long after the two men had arrived, the host of the open mic addressed them. There was some banter back and forth but it was all very benign. Then, near the end of the banter, the host referred to one of the two men as sir. Sir to me—and I think most people—is just a way of addressing a man in a proper fashion. The guy called sir, however, was displeased. The man said, “I’m a working guy, don’t call me sir.” Okay, weird. Two things came to mind: 1) He is so proud that he does some kind of labor, my go to guess for this is construction, that he doesn’t like to be called sir; and 2) He was criticizing the comic for being a comedian for a living and not having a real job. A quick reality check, no one is making a living by hosting open mic comedy. ~96% of any of the people performing comedy that night have probably made between $0-20 in the past year of performing.
Those are the two things I thought he might have meant. At this point the host has finished talking to the two men but I was sitting close enough to them to hear what they had to say to themselves afterwards. The man who wasn’t being called sir turns to his buddy and says, “It’s a military thing, he [the host] wouldn’t get it.” And the man called sir replied and said “Yeah, he wouldn’t understand.” This has me upset now. I get very defensive when people say things like, “You just wouldn’t/couldn’t understand.” I mean, they didn’t tell me specifically that I wouldn’t understand but I was in as much place as the host to understand, so I felt like I was being vicariously told I wouldn’t get it. I do understand that people refer to their superiors as “sir” in the military but is that really just a military thing? I think it transcends any one particular group of people. It all began with people being knighted, which I suppose is a form of military but certainly not bound to just people part of the US Military (knighting being the most obvious example of it occurring in other countries).
Whenever I talk about the military, people automatically assume I’m making fun of veterans. I have a joke in my stand-up where I mention the idea of veterans and in no way mock them but I found that I have to include a type of disclaimer at the beginning of the joke where I essentially state, this is not a joke about veterans, it’s a joke that includes veterans in it. That being said, this post is not mocking these two men who came into the bar, it is not mocking people who have served in the military, it is simply questioning this idea that someone who isn’t and never was a part of the military can refer to someone as sir. I also want to get it out there that when people tell me I wouldn’t understand, that it get’s me pretty worked up and if a person can’t see why then they don’t understand.