The customer slammed her cigarettes onto the counter, shot the clerk a look that could've corroded Big Ben's gears, then snarled, "I'm not your sweetie. Don't you call me Sweetie! Or Honey. Or Dearie." Then she snatched up her box of cancer sticks and goose-stepped away, slammed the door open, and disappeared in a cloud of dander.
A passage from THE ASSISTANT, by Bernard Malamud, popped into my head: "Our life is hard enough. Why should we hurt somebody else? For everybody should be the best, not only for you or me. We ain't animals."
"You can't win 'em all, Sweetie," I said. "I wouldn't worry about it."
She started to giggle. "I'd like to give you a big hug."
I told her to be my guest.