Whatever Happened to “Ma’am”?

May 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Nedda, New Posts

. . . and Don’t Ask Me How I Am!!!

I personally find it intensely RUDE, OBNOXIOUS, and DISRESPECTFUL when salespeople say, “How are you?” and call me “Dear.”

Yet this seems to be the current state of making a purchase in a store.

Whatever happened to “May I help you?”

Whatever happened to good manners?

Whatever happened to being polite and

treating people with respect?

– – – – –

Is it because my hair is salt and pepper

that I’m treated with such disrespect?

– – – – –

The dictionary defines “ma’am” as:

“Short for madam: used as a title of respect.”


I am not “dear” or “honey” or “sweetie” or any other term of endearment to a stranger behind a register, filling my grocery bag, or waiting on me in a store.

Why are all the salespeople like little robots, saying the same thing to you regardless of what store you’re in?  Who has been programming them all to say the same things?

And the next sales person who calls me “Dear” or “Sweetie” or some other term of endearment is likely to find themselves under arrest for invasion of my personal boundaries.

I’ve had it with this level of intrusion.

In case you’re wondering how someone like me, someone with whom the word “conservative” would never be associated, I don’t know how to explain it myself.  I just know that the current state of impolite speech and rude behavior in my world has become intolerable.

And if you do know me, you know that I’m not likely to keep my mouth shut about it.

So . . . look out, sales people, because I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!!

I’m going to make myself a “name tag” that says,

Do not ask how I Am.

Refer to me only as “Ma’am”.

Otherwise, I’ll be complaining to your manager!



14 Responses to “Whatever Happened to “Ma’am”?”
  1. Becc Town says:

    I think it is important to remember that the people at the checkouts are just doing their job. It is actually part of their job to say “Hi, how are you?”. Speaking as someone who worked at a grocery store and now works at a call centre, you can actually get in trouble from managers if you don’t say these words. And most people consider asking how someone is to be a form of respect and politeness instead of just ignoring them…
    You are asking these people to be more automated in these jobs than they already are. A lot of people are quite glad when someone asks them how they are, even if it is just the checkout girl. A lot of people need to talk. And as a check out person, being that person they need to listen is a great joy and can make you feel more useful and less like a machine.
    Everyone in life is doing their best at any given moment and it’s important to breathe through the things that they may do do in order to do so.
    Personally, if someone went off at me for asking how they were I would be very taken aback, confused and upset.

    • Nedda says:

      Thanks for your viewpoint. I realize these folks are programmed to say what they are saying, which is why I find it so offensive.

      And you’re completely correct – when I object to being treated this way, the person is taken aback, confused, and actually angry. Still, I would prefer if folks, including the managers, wake up and treat customers with more respect. When I actually do shop in stores, and I go from store to store, it’s like speaking to a bunch of automatons – robots – not people.

      Also, I didn’t say I want to be ignored. I just want to be spoken to with less familiarity and more respect.

  2. Jill Stone says:

    How about the gynecologist that called me Dear and patted my butt on my way out the door?
    That was a first and last visit.

  3. Les Logar says:

    Who gives a rats butt… we’re all just trying to get in and out of the store. I could care less. I’m more insulted by the disrespect in the workplace or my personal life. It’s like all those 60+ years of wisdom is worth nothing at work. Let’s not even drag in the male gender and their disrespect towards seasoned veterans in the work place.

  4. Sharon says:

    You go girl!
    Oops – Madam
    I love your energy. You are an awesome teacher to me Nedda.

  5. Lesley Sherlock says:

    I love it! The grey panthers sound great. I think the tone of the “Dear” can vary so much. I try not to get offended by it, as mostly there is no offense meant. Depends also on the age of the Dearor. I don’t mind being a Dearee if the Dearor is older than me, I can forgive that! Not so muchthe other way round though, so I can understand what it feels like.

    I must admit in my part of the world, I do tend to feel uncomfortable with the tendency nowadays to over-familiarity in a sales context. It’s does feel impolite in a way, a bit of a bore and I tend to vote with my feet in shops if anyone tries a “soft” hard sell if you know what I mean!

    • Nedda says:

      Hi, Lesley,

      I guess the “dear” I heard yesterday coming from a gal who’s probably in her 20’s was what put me over the top on all this, so I’d have to say that if someone 90 or older called me (68) “dear” I’d be fine with it. But this was a “kid” by my standards and I frankly felt she was lying when she said, “I call everyone ‘dear’.” Phooey!!

      • Les Logar says:

        Frankly I love it when “they” (anyone) calls me dear or sweetie… I hate being called Ma’am. and when sales people started calling me ma’am, including the kids… it made me feel OLD.

        I don’t get called terms of endearment… so bring on the sweetie, dear, precious, anything sweet.

  6. Jane E. Walker says:

    How about being “invisible?”

    I have found that when I was younger and thin and more “hip”, people were all over me – so to speak. Now I am one of the “invisible” people!!

    • Nedda says:

      Perhaps I’m more comfortable with being invisible than with being called “Dear” because my hair is grey. In my book, it’s prejudice, pure and simple. I’ve lived 68+ years and I believe I should be treated with respect and when I feel I’m not being treated that way, I’m going to speak up. I encourage others to do the same.

  7. Genny Jackman says:

    Nedda – O.M.G. it’s about time we all spoke up about the impolite world we live in today. Also, whatever happened to Please, Thank You and Excuse Me? Have they all gone the way of the bustle?. My pet peeve is when someone is talking on his/her cell phone while wheeling a grocery cart, runs over your toes or rips your shoe from the back, then has the gall to give you eye daggers like it’s your fault. Off with their heads!!!!!

    • Nedda says:

      I’m with you on this one!! Thanks for getting on the band wagon with me.

      • Genny Jackman says:

        Whatever it takes Nedda

        • Nedda says:

          Thanks Genny. I’m not sure what it’s going to take, but I’m writing a letter to one store that I visit frequently because I’m no longer willing to sit by quietly and allow this poor treatment of people to continue without speaking up.

          There was once a group called The Grey Panthers – people with grey hair who decided not to put up with certain things any more. I was a lot younger in those days, but I can definitely see the need for people of all ages to speak up about whatever is on their minds.