Garrison Keillor shared this story at his Substack podcast. I can’t pretend to have GK’s credentials, but I sure recognize the feeling.

The woman came by a little later and said, “How’s your breakfast, dear?” I said, “It’s wonderful,” though actually it was rather mediocre, but I didn’t want to cause her anxiety because — this is going to sound pathetic but forgive me — her “hon” had given me a very warm feeling deep inside. Me, a published author who once got a terrific review in the Times and who’s attended luncheons at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, but neither the Times nor the Academicians ever called me “hon” and she did and it means something to me.