Am I Really Telling the Cashier, “Don’t Call Me Ma’am”…Ever?

         NOT MAAM

   Don’t be polite. Just don’t.

What I mean is this – I am not a ma’am. Don’t say, “Thank you ma’am.” “Can I help you ma’am?” “Do you need to reach that ma’am?”

Ma’ams are old ladies with saggy nude pantyhose who sleep with hot water bottles.



I am not a ma’am.

Okay, so I fall into the ma’am age range, but trust me young CVS stock boy Mike, we ladies above the age of 35 just don’t want to be called ma’am.

Go with “miss.”  Or try dropping the salutation altogether and say, “May I help you?” or “Do you happen to know where the Capri Suns are?”

The other day, a millennial sweetly asked me, “Excuse me ma’am, do you happen to know the time?” I was shocked by this request. Mostly because even toddlers have cell phones with time display; but also because the ma’am part. I wanted to hand her a report card stating: A+ for manners. Keep up the good work!  And then chuck my watch at her.

Let me explain this aversion:

We are all getting older. Some of us are doing it more gracefully than others (I exclude all Kardashians and the Juvederm rep I recently ran into at a spa opening). We just don’t need the youth of this world reminding us. Ma’am talk is like someone giving you the Ice Bucket Challenge without your consent, or the benefit of raising money for a good cause.


Sing it sister.

Conversely, society does not remind tweens of their age. I have never once pulled up to a gaggle of thirteen year olds and said, “Hey Twilight, check me out, I’m driving. Too bad you can’t.” And then peeled off listening to Van Halen.

Oh, okay, I get why you are calling me ma’am now.

Nonetheless, just don’t do it.

Be polite. Be kind. Be helpful.

But beware if you call a group of fortysomething ladies ma’am. They are likely to gang up on you and ask if you are getting enough Vitamin C in your diet.


Photos courtesy of:

Not Ma’am:

Old Lady Pantyhose: