Waiter! There’s a stick in my butt!

Reader DW turned me on to this little letter-writing war going on over whether or not it is offensive to call a group of people “you guys” even when there are women in the mix.

You know PittGirl’s feelings on that, right, you guys?  Because don’t I always call you guys, you guys?

I do, you guys.

So listen to this particular letter:

It is demeaning to every lady to be greeted by a waiter, or even worse by a waitress, with the words “Hi you guys. How are you doin’ and what would you like?”

I will often stare at the perpetrator and say, “I am not a guy, I am a lady.” Unfortunately, they look at me as thought my head is not screwed on straight, but then they realize that I am serious and fumble around with an apology.

I have complained to many restaurant owners, but I really do not think they understand.

Maybe little signs can be made with the words, “I am not a ‘guy.’ I am a lady.” We can carry the sign in our purse and set it on a restaurant table if it proves to be necessary

Or maybe if every woman who agrees with the me and the Foleys writes the Post-Gazette, calls a talk show or finds another way to get the message across, the idea will hopefully sink in.

Is there someone in our wonderful city of Pittsburgh who is creative and willing to mass produce such a small easel sign? We need to educate not just restaurant wait staff but all service personnel and especially their employers.

Thank you for listening.


I think she’s serious about this little easel idea of hers.  Oy.  Also, SHE COMPLAINS TO RESTAURANT OWNERS?!

She actually asks for the owner and complains about the fact that her waitress, a young lady who was probably sweet as pie and gave the best service she could, had the audacity to say, “You guys.”


1. It is absolutely okay for her to be bothered by this, because I’m sure there are things that bother PittGirl that you guys are all, “Well, that wouldn’t bother me.”  Not the point.  The point is, maybe she’s overreacting about it?

2.  The only way PittGirl would ever dare to complain to a restaurant owner would be if I witnessed my waiter peeing into my soup, and even then, I’d probably just leave without paying and never go back.

3.  In other languages, Spanish at least, a mix of males and females always gets the masculine ending.  Big frickin’ deal.

Two cousins, one a boy and one a girl are always “primos” not “primas.”

4.  Lastly, I’m not sure, you guys, but I think Frances Cohen-Knoerdel might have a stick up her butt.

I could be wrong.


  1. Kelli
    May 29, 2008 8:51 am

    Ha! I read that too. And I have to say, I agree with you PG – she’s got a stick in her bum.

    Trust me – “guys” is not the worst group I’ve been lumped in with.

    Also, I loved the return letter from the woman who fought for equal rights and liked when people said, “you guys” because it meant they saw her the same as everyone else she was with.

    Which is an awesome sentiment and all, but I was more impressed by how this woman fought for equal rights. Yeah, Frances, you get all up in arms about the word guys and have your little easel signs made. All the while this other woman is kicking butt and taking names on things like equal pay for equal work. I know which of you two impresses me more.

  2. Nikki
    May 29, 2008 8:59 am

    Doesn’t this woman have anything better to do than look like an idiot to these restaurant owners and now the readers of the PG?

    I was going to also say, like you did Pittgirl, that if there is one male in the group, it takes the masculine form. It is that way in the french language too

  3. gunnlino
    May 29, 2008 9:01 am

    If she’s got her knickers in a knot over “guys”, what would be her take on being called “Hon”,
    as in “Hiya doin’ hon”, “Would yinz like some more coffee hon?”
    or the real sign of gender equality, just plain “Yinz”,
    as in “How yinz doin’, huh?”. The speaker all the while, chewing a wad of gum.
    Just askin’ yinz.

  4. curtO.
    May 29, 2008 9:01 am


    The correct greeting should be: “Hello mixed gender customers. What would your feminine or masculine appetites like to order today?”


  5. Kat
    May 29, 2008 9:08 am

    I don’t mind being lumped in with “guys” at all. Maybe this is because I personally call everyone “dude”.

  6. emstef23
    May 29, 2008 9:11 am

    It could be worse – they could say “How yinz guys doin’?” Right?!?

    I guess there will always be people out there who complain about stupid (in my opinion) little things like this.

    I don’t care if I am lumped in with you guys or not – just as long as you are polite to me and give me good food and good service….

    I agree PG – this lady is overreacting. My solution to her problem – just don’t eat out anymore then you can avoid being lumped in the “you guys” category!

  7. dwight
    May 29, 2008 9:25 am

    Hmmm … maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. We’d need photographic evidence, but perhaps Frances Cohen-Knoerdel looks a tad bit more like a man than she’s willing to admit—even to herself—and that’s why she’s sensitive to the issue? I’m just playing devil here. Er, devil’s advocate, yeah, that’s right, devil’s advocate.

  8. captain dummy
    May 29, 2008 9:26 am

    her name is francis, and she has a hyphenated name… nuff said!!!

  9. Brad
    May 29, 2008 9:28 am

    I’d just go with ‘yunz.’

  10. captain dummy
    May 29, 2008 9:29 am

    …sorry… francEs! my bad… would have gotten yelled at for that one, i’m sure!

    though, i bet at one time frances cohen was a REAL catch!

  11. Leave a Reply
    May 29, 2008 9:34 am

    A very old woman said the exact thing to me when I worked as a waitress in Philly years ago. At the time, the “I’m not a guy. I’m a lady” didn’t come off as stick-up-the-ass at all. This woman appeared genuinely upset and disrespected by my flippant comment.

    I think of her every time a waitress comes up to my table with a “Hey Guys…”

  12. Brother Anthony
    May 29, 2008 9:38 am

    A. She’s ignorant to not recognize that “guys” is one of very few gender-neutral plurals in the language and that it’s the only one which doesn’t make the speaker sound either stiff or very very local.

    B. She’s a fool to write that letter to a public forum and lonely if she lacked sufficient friends and family to help her to reconsider.

    C. I think Dwight may be on to something.

  13. cityworker
    May 29, 2008 9:42 am

    I think the most important thing I learned from this is how a lot of people take the use of the english language seriously. I am honestly starting to feel bad for how bad I butcher it.

  14. Julie
    May 29, 2008 9:50 am

    Frances is missing a key piece of her argument: she seems to think that other women are as offended as she is. Too bad for her the majority of Pittsburgh women don’t give a shit about being addressed as ‘you guys’ when they’re out with a group.

    Besides, if we were in the south, the greeting would be exactly the same, just adjusted for dialect: y’all.

  15. Zsa
    May 29, 2008 9:51 am

    I really hope that Frances Cohen-Knoerdel’s middle name is Ursula. Because that would be a bowl of awesome and the fact that she has a sequoia tree up her ass would entirely prevent her from understanding why everyone is laughing so hard.

    I wonder if she’s also complained about the waitresses at Ritter’s that call everyone “hon.” What am I saying, this woman would never go to Ritter’s.

  16. Chelly
    May 29, 2008 9:53 am

    Wow, that “lady” is a total loser! In fact, I might complain to the manager of a waitress called me “Lady!” GET A LIFE FRANCES!

  17. lovesthenorthside
    May 29, 2008 9:58 am

    as the only female in my house, it is my duty to make my sons act respectfully toward women. how could i have overlooked this? oh frances and your minions, can you guys ever forgive me?

  18. unsatisfied
    May 29, 2008 9:59 am

    I would not be surprised if some waiter/waitress decided to take a pee in frances’ soup after such a protest. actually, I don’t think that a court would convict said waiter/waitress for such an action.

    “lighten up, frances!”

    (notice that I used the feminine form of the spelling of her name — just in case she reads the burgh blog — wouldn’t want her to get all offended n’all….)

  19. toni
    May 29, 2008 10:02 am

    I kinda like being “one of the guys”….never bothered me, never will.

  20. In Sewickley
    May 29, 2008 10:11 am

    As for the “you guys” thing… hello, we’re all from Pittsburgh. “Yinz” is totally acceptable.

    And actually, I use “yinz” instead of “you guys” because I believe “you guys” is sexist so I never want to offend women.

    And besides, “yinz” represents!!!!!!!

    Now… yinz guys gonna be rootin’ ‘dem Pens on dis’ Seearday at da Igloo ‘n at?

  21. DeutschtownFrau
    May 29, 2008 10:13 am

    I think the key to this is Frances’s name. She’s spent a lifetime making sure that her name is spelled with an “e,” not an “i” — “E as in her, I as in his” — so she’s extra-sensitive to the boundaries of the feminine.

    That, plus she’s undoubtedly an older woman — Frances Bean Cobain being probably the only person in the world under the age of 65 with that first name — so our Frances is likely put off by the extremely casual manners of the modern world.

    So we think she needs to lighten up and she thinks we need to tighten up. It’s a problem with no solution. But we could be a little kinder whilst tossing it around.

  22. geeves
    May 29, 2008 10:16 am

    I’m not your guy, buddy!

  23. Monty
    May 29, 2008 10:18 am

    She refers to herself as “the me” in the 5th paragraph. That’s pretty pretentious, even for a lady. The I would like to the choke the her.

  24. KGC
    May 29, 2008 10:29 am


    Wonder if she would object to “Hey, hon. Get me another beer.”

    Could you imagine being married to her? Shudder.

  25. Matt
    May 29, 2008 10:40 am

    Frances has definitely had her food spit in more times then not. One thing I’ve learned to never do, is piss off the people that make your food!

  26. cityworker
    May 29, 2008 10:42 am

    I’m not your buddy, guy!

  27. cityworker
    May 29, 2008 10:43 am

    oh wait…maybe it is…

    I’m not your buddy, pal.

  28. Matt
    May 29, 2008 10:46 am


    I’m not your buddy, friend!

  29. Christina
    May 29, 2008 10:49 am

    Something tells me she’s probably not married. Or, if she is, her husband is somewhere shaking in a corner because she has completely immasculated him. Let’s start objecting to real things, huh? It’s not like the server walked up to her and said, “Hey, c*nt, would you like fries with your reuben?” Or, “Hey fat @ss, what can I get with you?”

    I realize there are radical, and in some cases, fairweather feminists in this world who don’t want their names or identities attached to anything masculine, because men are the evil sex.

    But let’s start attaching our feminism to something really worth fighting for. Attacking a poor server in a restaurant who is living off of tips and probably $2.50/hr for referring to a group of people as “guys” deserves to get you laughed out the door of the restaurant.

    Do something real and positive for women, Frances. Instead of seeming like the bitch in the restaurant who takes herself so seriously that she refers to the server as a “perpetrator” for her seriously offensive canned greeting for a group of people, do something that commands some kind of respect.

  30. Cindy T.
    May 29, 2008 10:56 am

    Talk about sweating the small stuff…get over yourself Frances. Loved both rebuttal letters in the PG yesterday (and all of the responses here today).

  31. Christina
    May 29, 2008 10:57 am

    ‘with’ in the last line of the first sentence should be ‘for’.


  32. Grant
    May 29, 2008 10:58 am

    Hey PG,

    I feel that Ms. Cohen-Knoerdel is over reacting. “You guys” is an acceptable, informal, gender-neutral address for a group of any composition. (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/regionalisms.aspx)

    Further, when one is deciding just how tight a twist into which to get ones knickers, consider the intent of the speaker. By using “you guys,” did he or she intend to offend or, more likely, to be cordial? If the latter, taking offense is an over reaction.

    Perhaps “every lady” could take offense that Ms. Cohen-Knoerdel presumes to speak for her.

    — Grant

  33. Caryn
    May 29, 2008 11:13 am

    I was a wiatress for many years, in a higher end place, so we didn’t and couldn’t use “you guys” – It was “how is everyone tonight?” BUT I would always get flak from a few customers each month, usually older ones, who took offense because I used “maam’ or “sir” – now I was raised to be polite and call people I do not know maam or sir, and I was baffled that they found it offensive. Did they want me to say “excuse me lady, do you need more water?” In the end, I did try to make an effort not to use any such words, but I thought that was a bit rude. So the moral is you can never really win – you will always offend someone…..

    AND Pittgirl is right, Ms. Frances can be offended but should keep quiet about it, as it was not MEANT offensively – that is what matters.

  34. Burgher in Maine
    May 29, 2008 11:20 am

    I got called out on this at work once, and ever since then whenever I say “you guys” I worry if its right or not. So annoying.

  35. Judge Rufus Peckham
    May 29, 2008 11:34 am

    This woman should feel fortunate she was called a “guy.” It could have been far worse. There are several well-known waitresses downtown who call everyone — men and women alike — “gentlemen.” I’ve heard some address female patrons as “Sir,” and “Oh, Captain! My Captain,” and “Monsignor,” and in one egregious breach of etiquette, “Prince Charles.”

    This is nothing compared to how some of them address their male patrons. One notorious waitress on Seventh Avenue endearingly asks every guy: “How’s the one-eyed wonder worm hanging?” Her nickname for me is Prince Everhard of the Netherlands. Of course, she gets a very generous tip.

  36. Steeler_tom
    May 29, 2008 11:38 am

    A few thoughts on Francis;……..

    1. High Maintenance (Not always a bad thing, for example my GF is not HM but I put her on a pedestal anyhow)

    2. Pain in the a$$ – being over the top PC is really getting old anymore. What ever happened to just being real & down to earth?

    3. Quit trying to use an arguement to speak for everybody

    4. If nobody listens maybe she’ll just go away.

  37. scottie
    May 29, 2008 11:41 am

    how about “y’all” or “Yinz”? Or how about yinz guys go down there and add a foot to the stick in her ass…

  38. retiredguy
    May 29, 2008 12:13 pm

    Being old enough to remember the JFK assassination, I can understand the lady’s point. But I was raised to show respect to my elders. My mother waitressed at Frankie Gustine’s in Oakland for 25 years, so I have a soft spot for waitresses, but I don’t care for the “you guys” thing either.

  39. 8 Mile
    May 29, 2008 12:15 pm

    “What yinz broads eatin’?” “You wanna Sammich?”

    “Can yinz ladies do me a favor and hemm my Jean shortz n’at? I’m goin to Kennywood tomorrow?”

  40. Kat
    May 29, 2008 12:17 pm

    I would bet all of you guys ten American dollars that Frances is over 70, if so, and y’all are kind of being harsh. If she is older, she’s from an age where women were treated with chivalry–men carried parcels, held the door open, allowed women to enter elevators first, etc. Maybe she is a bitter crank, or maybe she’s just lamenting yet another sign of course manners in the scary 21st century.

    If someone my age is getting all het up about “you guys”, I’ll roll my eyes. Someone my mom’s/grandma’s age gets a pass.

  41. Frances Cohen-Knoerdel
    May 29, 2008 12:23 pm

    It’s not a stick.

  42. captain dummy
    May 29, 2008 12:33 pm

    shes definitely middle aged

  43. Magnus Patris
    May 29, 2008 12:37 pm

    Scene: Pittsburgh Diner. Waitress: PittGirl. Waitress Pittgirl, dressed in Gary Roberts Jersey, do-me boots and frilly apron says to customers (doesn’t matter whether male or female). Hey bitches! Y’all ready to order, n’at?” BTW, the special of the day: “Pigeon Surprise”; freshly killed.

  44. Susan
    May 29, 2008 12:45 pm

    Am I the only one who remembers the opening of “The Electric Company”??

  45. joey
    May 29, 2008 1:46 pm

    She seems quite active in womens groups. She is a donor to The National Council for Jewish Women (Pittsburgh), Women’s Center & Shelter-Pittsburgh, Women & Girls Foundation, International Museum of Women, and was on the Board of Trustees for Mayview Hospital.

    Dare I call her a feminist?

  46. Zsa
    May 29, 2008 2:15 pm

    Kat and retiredguy – if she’s older and doesn’t personally like the usage of “you guys”, that’s one thing. But anyone – regardless of age – who presumes to say that (insert action/word/phrase here) is demeaning to ALL members of the female gender needs to step off her high horse.

    I’ve never felt demeaned by the use of “you guys” and I do not appreciate someone I’ve never met telling me I was.

    Caryn – if they were on the cusp of progressing from old to young, they probably would have preferred “miss” to “ma’am.” Ma’am connotates married and/or old in this part of the country (but not so much down South) so some women don’t care for it.

  47. Bulldog
    May 29, 2008 2:36 pm

    Ignorant, just plain ignorant. That’s what she is.

    Maybe she should head over to a library and check out a dictionary. It doesn’t matter which one, they all pretty much have the same definitions for “guy” which includes the “informal” usage of guy to refer to persons of either sexes.

    From the Random House dictionary (American Heritage has the same thing):

    2. Usually, guys. Informal. persons of either sex; people: Could one of you guys help me with this?

    Ol’ miss “Stick up the butt” needs to edumacate her bad self before continuing to expose her ignorance.