Monday, March 23, 2009

Can I Tweet the Question Ma'am vs. Miss?

Can I ask you something? When did I change from being called a Miss to a Ma'am? But I think that the bigger question is how am I supposed to accept being called a Ma'am gracefully?

I always thought you were called a Miss if you were a young woman or if you weren't married, called a Mrs. if married and wearing a huge rock on your finger and called a Ma'am if you were living or traveling in Georgia :) So the lady at my grocery store, the man at the coffee shop and the cable car driver must all be mistaken by calling me Ma'am. Right?

Maybe you can help me with my Miss vs. Ma'am rant. What's the hot topic on Twitter right now? Well let's try this status question. Tell me how can I be called Ma'am while wearing a pony tail, hoop earrings, mac lipstick, jeans and huge smile? But I still get mistaken for being just out of college, carded for buying wine and I FEEL not a day over 25. Well maybe the term Ma'am, is a term of respect while Miss is often used in more of a patronizing demeanor.

I have been told that being called Ma'am is a signal that your maturity is evident, not your age. But isn't this something that we tell ourselves so we feel better. Just like my favorite birthday card that I bought my best friend a couple of years ago that said 'Do you know what old is? Old is always ten years older then us."

I have known women who became Ma'am in their 30's while others are still Miss well into their 40's. I can appreciate the thought that I show maturity, but isn't this another thing we tell ourselves to hold on to our youth. (Please hold on while I go and slather to my face some more moisturizing cream.)

How did this rant start? Well let me tell you. I was recently shopping at my local grocery store which is just under my gym. I just finished a nice sweaty work out and remembered that I needed some items for dinner so I went to the grocery store. My pony tail was hanging out of my baseball hat and my cheeks were a rosy red from running on the treadmill. I noticed an elderly lady, probably in her eighties, needing some help in the dairy aisle. She saw me smile at her and came over.

And so she said 'Ma'am do you mind helping me look to see if they have some potato salad?' 'Of course and no problem' I replied.

What I was really thinking was, 'Oh look at the two Ma'ams talking in the dairy aisle!'

That's it I quit :) Can you twitter that? What is your definition of a Miss vs. a Ma'am? What's your biggest Pet peeve? Some of mine are nails on a chalkboard, road rage, towels left on the floor.....

20 comments:

Just Playing Pretend said...

I teach my second and third graders to respond respectfully using ma'am or sir to anyone older than them. They can be 88, 52, or 10. If they are older they are to respectfully address always. Maybe I'm 24 and old fashioned. Could be.

Mich said...

UGH i hat being called ma'am but some men don't even know that we find it insulting. a server that i used to work with called his customers ma'am all the time until i told him how much we hated it (if we are young). he had no clue and thought it was just a respectful term.

Char said...

what do I know, I'm from Alabama. here's how I break it down...if the person is doing me a service, looks older than me, or is in a position where they have more power (a supervisor, an authority figure, etc.) - they are a m'am. if they look younger than me or are a child, they're a miss. If they treat me wrong, it's the other label we give here, "b*tch". LOL I kid ... mostly. I would much rather be called m'am than not to be addressed or recognized. My nephews are 10 and 14 - they are instructed to call women they know are married Mrs. "-----" or if they are instructed by that person Miss 'First Name'.

Laura said...

Just Playing Pretend: Respect is a great thing. I love the idea that little ones are calling 10 year olds ma'am. I feel much better.

Mich: Maybe if we want to suck up then we can call a woman no matter what Miss. :)

Laura said...

Char: love your comment. My father had always told me that there are way worse names to be called then Ma'am and my brother knows all of them. Listen we are so liberal in San Francisco that I appreciate your feedback.

Thomas said...

I got called "Ma'am" when I was in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks. I am still feeling peeved a week later. No tip for you, Starbucks barista!

pj said...

Ok so as guys we really don't pay attention to much, miss vs mrs we don't know the difference so we default to ma'am. Easy.

Dionne said...

That's a great explanation of the difference between Miss and Ma'am. I never realized it, but now that you say it, it makes perfect sense!

I answered your questions from your other post in my post today. But since I don't use anti aging stuff, I changed question 5, and I added a 6th question.

GamecockQueen said...

I still remember the very first time I was called Ma'am on a regualr basis. I was only 22 or 23 and in a statistics class at the University of South Carolina. I was put into a group with these cute little twin boys that were probably 18 or 19. I went straight to work after this class so I always came dressed professionally and I think (hope) they thought I was older than I was. For the entire semester they addressed me as Ma'am any time we did any group work that required them to speak to me. They were so cute I didn't have the heart to tell them that they were making me feel like they thought I was old! :-D

Laura said...

Thomas: I hear you sister!

pj: I totally forgive you. I feel much better I promise. Just needed to get it out of me :)

Dionne: Thank you sweetie and great plug on glamour.com for you. Thank you for commenting on your blog.

Marty said...

Maybe it is just me but I like the whole Ms. thing myself. It sounds like Miss when I say it aloud but it always carries the respect of Ma'am.

Debbie said...

Ma'am bothers me and I am certainly old enough to be called that. But it just seems so terribly old.

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

I was close to thirty when I began to get 'Signora' rather than Signorina - but then I had three small children by tagging behind.

Couture Carrie said...

I despise it when people call me Ma'am. I know it's brazen but sometimes, depending on the context, I correct them!!

Your blog is fab too :)

xoxox,
CC

Laura said...

Marty: I think Ms. is perfect as well. Anytime you want to suck up though I would try Miss.

Debbie: You will always be a Miss to me!

Laura said...

Scintilla: What a lovely blog you have and I know the children always throw this theory off.

Couture Carrie: I think I could correct them as well but afraid I might snap. Thanx for stopping by.

Milltini said...

Don't worry--some people call everyone M'am...mostly those of us born and bred southerners. I used to get myself in trouble with this all the time, but it really isn't meant as an offense! Its just what we're taught in school and stuff (crazy, huh?)

Laura said...

Milltini: I actually loved writing this post but loved everyone's comments even more. It's wonderful to see all of our reactions and I agree with you. :)

G said...

Biggest pet peeve is being called by my first name whenever I visit my bank.

Annoys me to no end.

As for ma'am, it could be worse. I had people calling me sir starting at the age of 16.

Laura said...

Oh G: I hear you. I had a friend that went gray very early on and was called sir around the same age. Thanx for your comment.