People from whom I will accept "sweetheart" cheerfully enough: people from whom it seems to come naturally, in a situation where they haven't really had the opportunity to learn my name, and "miss", "ma'am", and the like seem a little too distant. (Baltimore folks, never fear, "hon" is in this category, situationally.)
Situations where I totally don't accept it: condescendingly, or from someone who has critically underestimated my skill level.
Situations where I will grit my teeth and bear it: when the vaguely touristy-looking fellow with his Aged Parent (and he himself looks old enough to be in my parents' generation) has out of the kindness of his heart done clumsily and brutally what I was capable of doing with elegance and precision, but technically rescuing me from a tight spot, so my thanks are socially obligatory. When I'm flustered, furthermore, I become an inarticulate motherfucker, so it's sort of hard for me to succinctly express "I just put a new battery in him and one of the thingies may have popped loose", which was in fact the case.
"Here, sweetheart, give me something to hammer on it with. The vice-grips will do!"
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