Chris Dillow from the left and Greg Mankiw from the right have both picked op on this post which looks at the lack of respect in US society for what can best be described as low paid and by extensions low status people.
There's nothing much to disagree with in any of the posts and they are worth a read. I read them in the order given above, maybe I should of read the original first but it doesn't matter.
There is one issue that none of them pick up on, respect has to be earned to be maintained. By that I mean that we should always show people respect, no matter what they do and what they are paid, until they demonstrate that they aren't worthy of our respect. I'd go further and say for those in low paid jobs that don't have much status we should go the extra mile to accommodate any offence they may cause, those jobs can be really frustrating.
But how should we show that respect? In the original posts and comments they discuss referring to people as "sir" or "ma'am", but those are accepted American terms which might work well over there. Here I think, and like to use, please and thank you and if you can with a bit of eye contact and smile does the job. It really costs nothing and tends to encourage better service anyway. Obviously the smile and eye contact don't work for call centres, probably one of the worst jobs around for lack of respect.
Then there are those in positions that they think means we should respect them, even when they act like complete arses. I'm thinking of some of the managers I've had or even the last three prime ministers. The office they hold might require some respect, but that doesn't mean that the incumbent should be respected.