Titles and titles

The formalities of verbal exchanges with superiors have not been lost on me, considering that I have a basic understanding of what title to address to whom. I also understand that in Colombia, titles are approached differently and that it is a place where even a neighbor can become a ‘jefe’ (boss) or ‘ingeniero’ (engineer).

In any other situation, I would reserve the title ‘dr.’ to a person holding a Ph.D. or someone with a medical degree, but here people also address their boss and most upper management with that title. Part of me has always cringed at this use of titles, annoyed that people would get them without earning them. Then, through an unexpected series of events, I received a letter addressed to Dr. Ana Maria. Considering that the entity sending the letter knew I merely hold a B.A., I can’t lie and say it didn’t fan my ego a bit.

Once those flames settled though, what really came to light is the extent to which individuals go to demonstrate politeness. The titles thus become a tool for making someone feel more special.  I don’t think I´ñm quite deserving of being addressed as Dr. AB without really working to obtain it, but I am flattered by the respect. And honestly, I’ll probably keep the letter around for a while.

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