Call Me Ma’am

“Would you like ketchup, Miss?” the child said to me as he handed me my burgers and fries.

Miss? Miss? He was my son’s age. Why was he calling me miss as if the roles were reversed and he were an older man speaking to a young lady?

I had just waited 45 minutes in the In n Out drive thru line, but I didn’t mind because In n Out is the best. Great food — great service. He was a cute kid in his little white outfit with the red and white hat and the apron pinned on with a giant safety pin. I liked him, but he just called me “Miss.”

I paused, too shocked to speak. “No, thank you,” finally escaped my lips.

“Okay. Have a good day, Miss.”

I drove away and went home to tell my family of this horrible incident. My daughter tells me that they always call their teachers Ms. That’s what they want, right? Totally different, I say. “Ms.” is a product of the feminist movement. Women decided they needed a generic term for themselves. Men are all Mr.’s; no one knows from their names if they are married or not. So, women didn’t want to be labeled as Miss or Mrs. Whatever. I was a teacher; I didn’t really care if my name came out Mrs. or Ms. or Miss and my last name, as long as the kids were asking good questions.

But this . . . this is different.

Just a week later, it happened again. We used a gift card at Outback Steakhouse (because we could never afford it otherwise!) The server was a young woman, slightly older than the In n Out boy, but still young enough to be my child.

She asked my daughter, “What can I get you to drink, Miss?” Then she turned to me and said, “How about you, Miss?”

So, now I am afforded the same level of respect as my teenage daughter?; we are no different?

The food was great; the server was great; we gave her a good tip. But I am not a miss.

I wonder if this trend is pervasive all over the country or if it is only a “thing” here in Southern California where we are all so afraid of becoming old. Hair, nails, botox, face lifts, tummy tucks. We must maintain the facade of Hollywood. We want to misses forever!

But, you know what? I’m bucking the trend.  I am not a miss. I have not been a miss in over 20 years. I am a ma’am. I have earned the respect the title shows by garnering an education, working at important jobs, being a responsible member of society, and raising wonderful children.

I am certain that these server “kids” used the accepted phrases of their respective restaurants. They didn’t choose to call me miss; they were told to call me miss. So, I am telling all you corporate people right now: I would have been perfectly happy if the kid at In n Out had just said, “Want ketchup?” and left it at that. No pronoun of direct address was necessary. If you must call me something, call me ma’am! I have earned it.

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