“Hi. What can I get YOU GUYS to drink?” It caught my ear like lace pulling across a rusty blade. The loud and somewhat high pitched young waitress smiled. I was annoyed. At that point only a little annoyed. I’ve said “guys” to groups of both guys and gals, and have said “you guys” many times, yet sitting in the restaurant it caught my ear the wrong way.
The waitress took our beverage order, food order, refilled coffee, brought the order, checked how we were doing, poured more coffee, asked if there was anything else we needed, brought the bill, wished us a good day, and every time she used the same loud, high pitched “you guys.” And, every time, I became more annoyed. Was it the pitch of her voice? Her granddaughter era age? A sense that I wasn’t a valued customer? Another glitch in the erratic service? Something about it annoyed me.
A few days while talking to someone at a local store I heard myself say, “Did you guys go anywhere on vacation?” Sitting with a group of wives at a recent conference I said “What are you guys doing tomorrow?” Waiting for the airport shuttle in a hotel lobby I asked people “how long will it take you guys to get home?”
What is this? When did “you guys” become the substitute for “you?” Since I say it myself, I should know. But I don’t know. I recall turning to a group in my all girls high school and saying “hey guys” and getting some flak from one of the girls who reminded me that there were NO boys on campus, but I have no specific recall as to how long ago “you guys” quietly tip-toed into my vocabulary and made itself at home.
At least I am not the only one. The Urban Dictionary has a number of comments on the situation. In 2008 someone listed as Chandelier LaGuardia posted to The Urban Dictionary, in part, “This term is used to reduce the awkwardness that the less-educated among us have with the fact that the singular and plural form of “you” in English is the same. It is used by restaurant hosts/hostesses and servers relentlessly. A particularly vulgar aberration of an already bad-enough term would be to say “yous guys,” which is often heard in Long Island.” No Chandelier, I don’t think “less educated” is the correct link, and I purposely did not include your imbecilic comments on the use of “Y’all”, which I consider homey and friendly, and is used liberally by at least 95 percent of the people who love me unconditionally.
Oh well. Apparently “you guys” is here to stay.
What do you guys have to say about that?
Every Day Is A Good Day. VJ