It happened again today. I was tremendously insulted by a perky little Starbucks barista. No, she didn’t roll her eyes in impatience, make a rude comment behind my back, or poke fun at my obnoxiously pink outfit. She did something far worse. She called me “ma’am.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a very tolerant person. When they screw up my drink order or take a long time ringing up the high-maintenance customer ahead of me, I just roll with it. Heck – sometimes I even give them a sympathetic smile. Working in retail sucks, and I know from experience that these people – no matter how robotic or surly they may seem – need a big hug at the end of the day. But one thing they should never EVER do is call someone without a full head of gray hair “ma’am.”
Why do they do it? Out of respect for their elders? Well guess what people, I’m not a granny! A lady never reveals her true age, so let’s just say that I’m squeezed between the Kate Hudson-Reese Witherspoon age brackets. Do they look like ma’ams to you? I don’t think so.
I’m still a youngin’ dammit! I can still squeeze my tush into a pair of jeans from the juniors section! I boogie to Lady Gaga! I say things like “LOL,” “TTYL,” and “ROTFL!” Wait…those techy acronyms are still hip, right? Do young people still even say “hip” anymore? Great – now I’m starting to doubt my cool factor!
But I digress…my point is that the word “ma’am” should be boycotted from the robotic customer service scripts that retail grunts must adhere to. This is an important rule that should be enforced in new employee handbooks. I tried to educate a checkout boy at my local grocery store, but to no avail. After he asked, “Did you find everything OK today ma’am?” I told him very politely that he shouldn’t ever call a woman under the age of 60 “ma’am.” I thought I got through to him until he muttered, “Do you need any help carrying these bags out to your car ma’am? UGH! That’s when I realized there’s no hope. Clearly, the word is so deeply embedded in their brains, so I might as well get used to it.
So as I’m sinking into the “acceptance stage” of my grief, I take pleasure in knowing that what goes around comes around. One day, they too will be called “ma’am.” I hope they walk away with their heads down low. I hope the dreaded word causes them to wince in agony. I hope they spend gobs of money on “age-defying” makeup at the MAC counter (cue evil laughter).
Wow – I’m really getting heated about this. Maybe I’m just feeling ultra-sensitive because I turned another year older today. I’m not totally freaking out about my declining youth. Old people have fun too. I have lots to look forward to – like Bingo nights, RV adventures and senior specials! I’m not in denial…really. Since today’s my b-day, I’m going to treat myself to this fun little book by Linda Franklin, “Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am.” Misery loves company, right?
What do y’all think? Is “ma’am” an inexcusable insult? Post a comment and partake in my cranky rant!