My friend Janet told an anecdote about a woman in a store reaching over to move the brand label to the inside of Janet's shirt. There you go, baby, she said - patting her shoulder maternally. Janet chuckled at the unexpected familiarity.
But this is not an unusual experience here. Sometimes a checkout clerk at Walgreens or Stein Mart addresses me as "baby." How ya doin' today, baby?
In another city, one might take this as a put-down or, as a woman, a come-on, but it is a charming endearment. A sales person might ask: Did you find everything you were looking for? They're really sorry if you didn't. And they mean it!
I got a new driver's license last week because I'd moved and never changed the address. At the Algiers DOT office, the process was painless. I took a number, was handled right away, and the fee was waived. After my picture was taken, my name was called and the new license handed to me.
"There you go, baby," the agent said and smiled. This would not happen in Chicago.