SoCS – An opinionated study on Miss, Ma’am and Sir

There’s this soup, sandwich and salad place near my work that I go for lunch quite often. I’ve talked about it before on my blog a few times. They have this Kale and Quinoa salad that’s to die for. It’s one of those setups where you have to go down a line and talk to someone at each station. The first station is for salad and sandwiches; then you do the salad toppings; soup is the next section; and finally, you tell the last person what you ordered and someone else rings you up. At each station, it seems like I am addressed as “Miss.”

“Miss, would you like any salads or sandwiches today?”

“Can I get you any soups today, Miss?”

“What did you order for yourself today, Miss?”

It’s all very polite and nice and I enjoy the customer service. There are so many places today where I feel like I spend the few minutes in front of someone at a checkout line trying to get them to smile. I wish them a nice day, wondering why the hell they are in customer service if they can’t even fake a smile for their customers.

Anyway, the whole “miss” thing should be something I enjoy and look forward to, but honestly, it bothers me. I’m not a “Miss” by any means but what other alternatives can they use without stepping on a mine field. “Ma’am” is way too formal and that would upset me too for different reasons.

I suppose it’s the best thing they can use without it turning into something weird and unfriendly. But I just always feel like they are lying to me and in turn, I am lying to myself. I spend the whole way down the line saying to myself, “I’m not a miss. I don’t even look like a miss (although I’d like to think I look youngish for my age?).

This all made me wonder what they call the men. To be honest, I’ve always been so wrapped up in the erroneous “Miss” that I haven’t even paused to listen to how they address the men. I’m assuming it is “Sir,” because I think that is the safest bet. And that just seems so unfair! I suppose “Sir” is the equivalent of “Ma’am,” but they just don’t sound like they are even in the same league. Sir seems so dignified and gentlemanly.

Do men feel the same way about things like this?

My son’s girlfriend (that sounds weird too) used to get in the car and call me “Mrs. Espinosa.” Boy did I put a stop to that!

I think we all need floating signs hovering around us with our names so we can all be friendly and nice and use each other’s given name rather than formal titles or weird terms of address that don’t even fit. (In my humble, and rather grumpy opinion…)


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is once again hosted by Linda G. Hill. I, for one, missed you Linda. Thanks so much for the welcome and for making it so easy to help out. You truly are a gem!

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “miss.”  Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

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22 thoughts on “SoCS – An opinionated study on Miss, Ma’am and Sir

  1. Great post. I had to reply to someone at the office recently and she only listed her first and last name. Since she’s the secretary to Human Resources, I wanted to be respectful and not use her first name. I chose to use “Mrs.” and her last name, thinking that would be the least potentially offensive. When she replied again, she was very upbeat so I think it worked. It would be nice if we all had signs though. It’s funny because I call my blog “Riley Central” because it represents my busy life and my last name is riley. Still, many of my commenters call me Riley even though my tagline says my name is Damien Riley.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two things. First, whenever I head “Sir” I look around to see if someone important is nearby. Second, I never know what to call women. I honestly think “hey you” or “excuse me” would be better then Ma’am, given the looks I’ve gotten when I’ve used that. “Honey” Sweetie” and other words that some women seem to be able to use toward other women are clearly out of line for me. I recently wanted to let a woman know that she had dropped a glove in the parking lot. I went with “Excuse me, you dropped your glove”

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  3. Hi Helen, great post. I remember when I grew up we called all adults “M’am” or “Sir” but all adults called each other that too unless they were related or friends. When I started working it somehow relaxed and the equivavelent to “Miss” was abolished as it was considered sexist to have a “little” version for “madam” but none for sir. To be honest it still feels a little funny to me to address “strangers” with their first names even though I found it very relaxing too when I first moved to Britain. Maybe it should not matter how they address us as long as they act politely.

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  4. When a man is knighted he becomes “Sir.” When a woman is knighted she becomes “Dame.” Logically we should all be called “Dame.” Or not. 😛
    Thanks so much for your sweet mention, Helen. It’s good to be back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How wonderful. Fully enjoyed reading your post. You know a lot of kids are taught from a young age to call their friends mothers Mrs and father Mr and not use their given name. So sometimes it is hard to know what they were taught. I like to call people by their given name if I know it. Otherwise I just say thank you mam or sir.

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  6. If I were you I would take it as a compliment that you are still young and beautiful to be called, “Miss.” Next time they call you Miss, think of that and maybe it will feel better to you. But it does give us something to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

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