When I was in the Navy, I was an officer.
The enlisted crew members had to address the officers as Sir or Mr. or by title (Ensign, LTJG, LT or LCDR). So there were older more qualified men calling me Sir! When I was an Ensign especially, it seemed ridiculous to be "respected" in that manner. After a few years with experience, it was perhaps a little more appropriate. The officers were responsible for any problems with our areas. In general, I am a very informal type person so it was strange to be so formal; it was easier to call people Sir or whatever than to have it back at me.
So now-a-days I would rather call someone Sir then vice visa. It seems that many people in the Y call me Sir when we talk (normally Good Morning, etc.). I wonder if I'm getting old and they think I desire the respect. It seems that the Hispanics especially do this. Maybe they are being ironic. But in general, I would rather be on equal terms!