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On a recent visit to Spain I was rather surprised when a waiter addressed me as chico. He was about forty years younger than me which made it seem quite incongruous. It was obviously intended in a friendly sense. It was in a bar in Arrecife in Lanzarote but he did not seem to have a Canarian accent, at least to my inexpert ears, so I do not think that is too relevant.

And just in case you are wondering those close to me assure me that I do not resemble Chico Marx so we can rule that explanation out.

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  • Maybe is a courtesy way from the zone, for example in Mexico you would always be a "Joven" (young one) to the waiters
    – Mike
    Oct 17 '19 at 14:08
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I just asked a close friend from Gran Canaria and he replied that no, it is not common in the Canary Islands (where both Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are).
It is true that men there may colloquially address each other as muchacho ("boy"; sometimes pronounced like muyayo), but a waiter addressing an old(er) person as chico does not seem to be common.

Also, in my experience, that is unheard of in the rest of Spain too. The usual way for a waiter to address an older customer would be señor / señora, caballero (for male customers), etc.

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    for me Chico sounds more like the type of language used in central America I know there's a lot of Venezuelan communication between the canary islands and Venezuela, so maybe he the waiter was Venezuelan. I have a Venezuelan friend and he uses the word Chico to address people. also on this side of the sea it is known that Cuban people use the word "chico" a LOT.
    – Mike
    Oct 17 '19 at 16:55
  • @Mike - that sounds plausible, because we know that Venezuelans have been leaving the country for economic reasons. Oct 18 '19 at 2:17

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