Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Working gentleman 

I have, for the second time in my life, just been asked if I am a “working gentleman”. Why do I find this such a strange phrase?

The first time, many years ago, it was asked of me by a prospective cleaner so that she knew whether I was at home all day or if I was at work. Bit irrelevant really as I wouldn’t be needing a cleaner if I was at home.

This time I was asked by a receptionist at my doctor’s surgery as I was asking about Saturday appointments – something that has recently been introduced at my local surgery for “people who are working”. Fair enough, I suppose. People who can be seen at other times should be seen at other times.

I just find working gentleman an odd way of asking whether I work full time and would prefer a different phrase. I don’t know what but something that didn’t make me sound like an elderly rent boy would be a start.

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They may just be trying to be polite. A hospital consultant's letter to my GP referred to me as "this gentleman" and I took it as the polite alternative to "this man". Some people might regard "this man" as disrespectful, and your cleaner might think it disrespectful to ask if you are a "working man", especially if you manifestly are in a white-collar profession.
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