Calling them 'hon' leaves bitter tasteNo matter how homey...


November 05, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Calling them 'hon' leaves bitter taste

No matter how homey, how quaintly Baltimorean, it is not -- not -- polite to call anyone "hon," says Letitia Baldrige, one of the nation's leading experts on etiquette.

The term of endearment, used here to address everyone from diners in greasy spoons to drivers on the BW Parkway, "is a put-down to a lot of women," Ms. Baldrige said.

Ms. Baldrige, in town yesterday for a speech and signings of her new book on executive manners, said she draws a lot of fire for her proscriptions against many regional modes of speech.

She has, for example, received angry letters for her advice against Southerners' overuse of "sir" and "ma'am."

But Ms. Baldrige, who served as the chief of staff to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, said she is unintimidated.

Although she regrets the over-sensitivity of women to traditional regionalisms like "hon," she says everyone, men and women, would be better served by "substituting something more suitable." Further advice for Maryland executives: Don't serve hard crabs and corn on the cob at formal business dinners.

Ms. Baldrige says the traditional crab feast is a good idea -- if everyone dresses appropriately -- for an informal dinner that will make a big impression on guests new to the area.

She said she has never actually attended a crab feast. So there's no advice on whether to place the crab mallet to the left or to the right of the salad fork.

It's an adjustment, but jobs in Md. grow

Despite almost daily announcements of layoffs, there seems to be growing evidence of an improvement in the job market.

Charles McMillion, president of Washington-based MBG Information Services, an economic forecasting company, noted yesterday that, after seasonal adjustments, the number of jobs rose in Maryland in the late summer.

From July to September, employment in Maryland grew by by more than 81,000, he said.

And the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped a fifth of a percentage point, to 6.6 percent, from August to September.

Dr. McMillion says he is puzzled by the mixture of good and bad economic news. Personal income growth is still weak, and the statistics don't say which industries are creating the jobs.

"It is a little mystifying. But it is a good mystery. We'll take an unexplained gift any time," he said.

New TB rules given to health workers

The nationwide spread of tuberculosis cases has prompted the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to send out new safety regulations for all 22,000 of Maryland's emergency health workers who may handle TB patients.

Although Maryland hasn't seen the drastic increase in cases other cities have -- Maryland documented only 442 of the estimated 1 million U.S. cases last year -- the state must still adopt the new rules, said Ileana O'Brien, deputy commissioner of the Labor and Industry Division of the state Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Starting Jan. 8, all health workers will have to wear respirators whenever they work on or transport people with TB, she said.

Beth Nachbar, associate administrator for the Baltimore region, Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said that when she goes out on emergency medical calls to TB sufferers she usually wears just a surgical mask and gloves, and she figures she takes more precautions than most emergency medical technicians.

But now she is preparing a training program to ready EMTs for the beefed-up safety rules.

The new rules may be a hassle, she says, but she doesn't think it will be a hard sell.

"In this line of work, it is worth [the hassle]," she said.

First offer is best on early retirement

The first early retirement offer your company makes will likely be its best one, a Maryland management consultant advises.

Craig Dreilinger, head of The Dreiford Group, of Bethesda, says companies usually try voluntary reductions before they resort to layoffs.

And they have more money to offer as incentives early in the cutbacks process than they do later.

Another reason the first offer is best: Employers are more likely to feel guilty about their first downsizing, and they may compensate by being generous.

As downsizing continues, most employers "have done their suffering, and they get harder instead," Dr. Dreilinger says.

Toyota-GM venture given green light

The Federal Trade Commission ruled this week that a joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., which has become one of the textbook cases of "team" management, can continue to operate indefinitely.

The agency originally had ordered New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. to close at the end of 1996 because of concerns about collusion between the automakers.

NUMMI took over a closed GM plant in Fremont, Calif., that had become notorious for poor quality and bad labor relations. Today, most of the same workers make Toyota Corollas and Geo Prizms, which are rated as among the highest-quality cars sold in the United States.

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