Monday, May 11, 2009

M'am

TLM's got the pukes real bad, but I'm going to post about me instead. Because I, at least, am not sick (yay!).

The most appalling thing happened on my walk home from work tonight. A young woman called me "m'am".

I understand "m'am" is fairly commonly used in the States, but here in New Zealand it's not. And when a young woman calls me "m'am", I can imagine how it must feel to a not-quite-pensioner when a boy scout insists on helping her across the street.

First, I wondered whether my outfit made me look matronly - I was wearing a knee-length sheepskin-style coat over a bright green tunic dress and black top, black tights and black ankle boots. Was the effect a little too much like I was trying to relive the 60's (I'm not that old)? Or maybe, because I had my hood up, my face was in shadow and it brought out the dark circles under my eyes?

Anyway, it's a bit of a shock when, for the last 30 years, people have assumed I was much younger than I really was.

19 comments:

Make Tea Not War said...

Oh poor Violet! You don't look that old.

I was quite thrilled the other day when someone on the bus called me Miss.

Nigel Patel said...

I'm a "M'am"er and I'm not ever Southern. Just a neurotic Yankee.
Did the girl in question possibly sound like she was from the American South?

Antoinette said...

Can't add much perspective here - I am a perpetual "ma'am" and "sir" kind of gal.

donnasoowho said...

Oh no m'am is bad. I've only ever used it about twice in my life when desperately couldn't think of anything more appropriate to say. And only ever 'sir' in jest.

I do quite like it though when someone (perhaps when talking to their child) calls me 'the lady'.

Angela said...

I was called that when I was 17. That made me look around andwonder who they were talking to.

A Nonny Moose said...

Uh Oh, I'm a "m'am"er. I use it in a jaunty way, signifying respect for maturity/help (especially being served in retail), rather than an indication of age.

I thought it would be better than "Hey you" or *grunt*.

A Nonny Moose said...

Uh Oh, I'm a "m'am"er. I use it in a jaunty way, signifying respect for maturity/help (especially being served in retail), rather than an indication of age.

I thought it would be better than "Hey you" or *grunt*.

Violet said...

mtnw: "miss" and "ma'm" - it reminds me of that old BBC comedian Dick Emery. Remember him?

Nigel: nah, she was a local. Actually, at first I thought she was calling me "man", which would have been a little over-familiar. But preferable.

Antionette: that'll be 'cos you're from Texas?

donnasoowho: yeah, well the last time someone referred to me as a "lady", and it was by another 20-year-od :-(

Angela: hi there! so you're well-rested enough to blog again?

A Nonny Moose: in a retail situation, "ma'm" and "sir" are entirely appropriate. But in my opinion, it sounds wierd anywhere else.

Nigel Patel said...

For the most part I only M'am on the job.

rivergirlie said...

uh-oh! are we moving towards mrs robinson territory? sounds to me as though your outfit was perfection. maybe you dazzled him?

Random Visitor said...

Would you prefer 'Sir'? In a formal situation I probably would use 'Sir' for a woman, like in Star Trek, but informally it would be very odd. I frequently use the word 'Sir' informally with men appended to a 'Thank you' usually. I wouldn't address some random person as sir though, it's reserved only for people who've done something respectful - for that, there is always 'mate' which is appropriate for a man or a woman, although I get the feeling some women take offence at that.

Desiree "a.k.a. Grandma" said...

Maybe they were from Northern England where they call their mums "mam" (ask Him Indoors).
If so this would (I surmise) be an acknowledgement of your status as one.
And a young (-looking) one at that! :o)

Kazzer said...

You still look young Violet, But then I'm getting older and my eyesight is not what it was....

Kazzer said...

p.s. a Chinese lady asked me whether I was Lil Taf's mum or grandma. Humph!

donnasoowho said...

You know I've worked in retail on and off over the years... and I've always avoided going the m'am/sir route even then. The other thing that I find vaguely irritating is the whole thing about calling people in the medical community 'dr'. I call all my doctors by their first names yet their reception staff PERSIST with referring to them as 'dr blah' (so, in conversation I will say "I need to make an appointment with Helen' and receptionist will say 'Dr LOCKEY is free on Wednesday morning at 9'). pffffft, I have to do some (work related thingo) next week with someone who is a Professor(medical). I really don't want to have to greet him as 'Professor whathisface' but I have agreed that I will do it in the first instance and hope like hell that he goes 'just call me blah' after that. I'm only doing it under duress.

Violet said...

donnasoowho: I guess it's 'cos you're an egalitarian eh?

aprilbapryll said...

The only time I use Ma'am is when I address my supervisor on the phone ... and that's usually sarcastic because why on earth is she calling me when she is two cubes away? Or if someone's a real bitch. And since you're neither of those things, I'd never call you ma'am! :) Even when you're 70 ... of course, I don't think I'd be far behind you. =)

Violet said...

aprilbapryll: well, obviously "sir" and "ma'm" wouldn't be used between peers...

glomgold said...

I agree. Ma'am is usually a term best left unused. Unless for humorous effect but not towards strangers even then.