McDonald's has a commercial running where a woman goes in for breakfast and as the server finishes serving her, he says, "have a great day, ma'am." - and she spends the rest of the commercial murmuring about how she is not a "ma'am", she still feels like a "miss" (or "Ms."). At the end of the commercial, a mailroom guy in her office says, "Good morning, Miss" and she feels better - all because she ate a McDonald's chicken biscuit for breakfast. Now, when I first saw that commercial, I laughed...and then, twice in just as many days, two random people called me "ma'am" and I totally understood what she felt and went through. I mean, I remember, as a child, my parents teaching my brother and I to address our elders as "ma'am" and "sir" as a measure of respect - and I remember babysitters rebelling at the very thought of being thought of as an "elder" - now, I know how they feel.
The first incident happened in church when I asked a young man if he would be assuming leadership of the youth program at the church and he responded, "Yes, ma'am." OUCH! Then, yesterday on MARTA (Atlanta's public transportation system), I asked the young man sitting next to me if he was about to exit the train at the next station and he turned to me and said, "Yes, ma'am" - OUCH again! Now, I know both of these young men were just exhibiting home training and praise God for that, but do I look like a "ma'am"?
Putting this question to a (used to be) very good friend of mine, he said I had indeed passed into "ma'am" territory because I could answer "yes" to 3 out of the following 4 "official ma'am status" questions:
1. Are you over 40 years old? (Actually, he said, "well, you ain't no spring chicken no more", but...whatever!) Yes. I am over 40 years old...
2. Do you wear your hair cut short? Yes. I just cut it all off on November 8th as a matter of fact. According to him, young girls want long hair so they can flirt with it by flinging it, playing with it, etc. Older women ("ma'am"s) have realized the value of short hair - no fuss, no muss, no stress.
3. Do you wear hats? No. Apparently, older women embrace the wearing of hats. We might not want to mess with hairstyles, but we want to be fashionable. After discussing this with him a little, I had to admit that I did like seeing other women in hats, but hadn't worn them because of the bulkiness of my locs for the last six years. He intimated (and I secretly agree) that I'll be a hat wearing sister soon, which will again prove that I am officially a "ma'am".
4. Do you wear comfortable shoes? YES. I am a shoe fanatic (as my shoe closet is a testimony to), but I believe in wearing comfortable shoes whenever possible. I keep a pair of office slippers under my desk just in case the "super cute, match my outfit" shoes get to be too much (usually after lunch) during the day. And I keep a pair of running around shoes in the car just in case a quick trip to the mall turns into a day long adventure.
So there you have it. According to my friend, I am officially a "ma'am". I didn't feel like one before. I don't feel like one now. And I don't think I look like one. Do I have to embrace being one? I don't think so. I think I'm going to head to McDonalds, get me one of those biscuits and wait for the mail room guy to walk by. (and if he knows what's good for him...)