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How do you like to be addressed by your server?

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john333 Jul 20, 2012 05:50 AM

I eat out alone alot. I'm a middle aged male. The waiters have over time addressed me by various nicknames: "Sir", "Boss", "Buddy" etc. I don't really like any of these particular nicknames.

Do you ever tell them to just call you by your first name? I never have because it just seems unimportant/inappropriate somehow.

But on the other hand, being addressed as "Boss", I don't know.....

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  1. The Chowhound Team Aug 1, 2012 01:58 PM

    Folks, this is starting to get really far afield and most of the active sub-threads are tangential to the original question, so we're going to lock it now.

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      FrankJBN Aug 1, 2012 10:05 AM

      Just a couple of days ago I had a young server at a beach resort bar/restaurant. he addressed me as "Sir", just fine. Then he laid his hand on my shoulder as we finished our conversation.

      Don't touch the customer!

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      1. EarlyBird Aug 1, 2012 09:58 AM

        I prefer "sir," unless I'm such a regular that I'm on a first name basis. "Sir" is not about me being "above" anyone. It's usage doesn't demean the server; to the contrary, it defines the person as someone of good breeding and who wants to do his/her job well, which in this instance is to serve a customer.

        I've had people call me "boss," and I've asked them not to call me that, especially if they are people of color. I'm white and the term makes me feel like some kind of plantation owner. It's usage is actually a bit cheeky too, a reference to some assumed subservience of the server. "Buddy"? Maybe if I'm at a bar at the beach or something, but no.

        My worst? "Guys." "Hi guys, I'll be your server today." I've heard this used on a regular basis, addressing women and men of all ages. That would not be allowed if I was running a restaurant.

        "Buddy," I don't like, unless I'm at say, a real

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        1. Karl S Jul 31, 2012 04:58 PM

          In the US, regardless of one's adult age, when addressing a stranger who appears to be an adult, it's Sir (for men) and Ma'am (for women). It's not a statement that one is in middle age; it's merely a courteous acknowledgment that one appears to be an adult (which has a status of its own in social situations). Those are the universal widgets of customary American forms of personal address. (And, I might add, ones that were for generations stoutly denied by many white people to black people in much of this country; gaining the social right to be called Sir or Ma'am should be jealously championed in light of that history.) People who take offense at it are free to do so, but the offense does not oblige anyone else to alter the social custom.

          If one wants to be very stilted, one could insist on being addressed in the third person. That's unAmerican.

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          1. re: Karl S
            Veggo Jul 31, 2012 05:38 PM

            Second person works for me; I prefer some familiarity. I generally reserve third person for the deceased.

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            2roadsdiverge Jul 31, 2012 10:31 AM

            As long as it is not intended to insult, I don't mind any nickname or honorific.

            Call me sweetie, hon, sir, buddy. It doesn't bother me. I don't even mean being called "big guy" if it is said in a friendly way -- I am a very big man. It is all in the intent. If it is not intended to be insulting, I choose not to be insulted.

            Oh, and I am a 44-year-old man living in the Midwest, if that matters.

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            1. re: 2roadsdiverge
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              DGresh Jul 31, 2012 04:13 PM

              Yeah, I'm a middle-aged lady (50+) and while I prefer ma'am I really don't get upset at "young lady" if it's said in a friendly way (I wouldn't expect this at a fine restaurant). Life is short, why get upset with stuff.

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            2. tommy Jul 31, 2012 06:14 AM

              I've never asked a server to remember my name, and think that's sort of rude (they have other things to worry about). If I'm at a bar and the bartender introduces him/herself, I certainly do the same. Servers? Never. "Hi I'm Bill I'll be your server." "Hi Bill, I'm Tom, this is my wife Janet, my mom Susan, that's my dad over there Jim, and my 3 kids, Billy, Bobbie, and Tyler."

              Don't care what I'm called. I don't get hung up on things like this. ETA it's probably easier being a male. I can see and have seen how insincere uses of "young lady" are sort of annoying.

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              1. d
                dadsrag Jul 27, 2012 06:08 PM

                Diner: "Honey"
                Taqueria: "Amigo"
                Hooters: "Stud"
                Soulless National Chain: "Sir"
                Sushi: "PapaSan"
                Starbucks: "Tim"
                Pho Noodle House: "Mister"
                In-n-out: "#84"

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                1. re: dadsrag
                  coll Jul 28, 2012 12:37 AM

                  I think we have a winner!

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                  1. re: dadsrag
                    Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 09:07 PM

                    Hm-m. Never been to Hooters, but "stud" has been used elsewhere, and I sort of shrugged, and looked over my shoulder, imagining that they were addressing someone else.

                    At Starbucks, I am "Hunt," as there are dozens, and dozens of "Bills," and I hate fighting over a latte.

                    Hunt

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                  2. g
                    GutGrease Jul 27, 2012 06:40 AM

                    I prefer when they address me by saying, "Wrong glass, sir!"

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                    1. re: GutGrease
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                      2roadsdiverge Jul 31, 2012 12:29 PM

                      Blues Brothers reference. I like it!

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                    2. s
                      sunangelmb Jul 26, 2012 06:11 PM

                      I used to get so annoyed at being called ma'am. (when I was young and dumb) now at 38, I am fine with it. I prefer it over yous. You know "what can I get yous guys." I actually find myself calling most service workers (bank teller, cashiers, etc) ma'am or sir, and so do my two pret-teen boys.Respect is fading from our society, but not in my house

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                        rochfood Jul 25, 2012 07:53 PM

                        Sometimes I prefer "Holmes " or "Ese' "

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                        1. re: rochfood
                          ladooShoppe Jul 27, 2012 07:17 AM

                          The man who made my burrito yesterdal called me "amiga". I liked that. But it was a burrito joint.

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                          1. re: ladooShoppe
                            coll Jul 27, 2012 08:03 AM

                            Likewise the local deli owner, who speaks English very well although as a second language, always calls me "my friend". Formal and yet friendly, I like it.

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                            1. re: ladooShoppe
                              Motosport Jul 27, 2012 08:50 AM

                              Amigo and amiga (friend) are a term of respect en Espanol I.M.H.O. and I would be happy to be addressed as such.
                              I often refer to my more familiar clients as "my friend."

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                          2. ladooShoppe Jul 25, 2012 11:11 AM

                            How about

                            "what can I get for you hags?"

                            When addressing 2 ladies? I once said that to a couple of friends (customers coming in for free ice cream) while working at an ice cream shop. We had a good crack up about it.

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                            1. re: ladooShoppe
                              kattyeyes Jul 25, 2012 11:16 AM

                              There you go--or bitches, while you're being fresh with friends! HA HA HA! Did heads turn when you said it? :)

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                              1. re: kattyeyes
                                ladooShoppe Jul 25, 2012 01:57 PM

                                Lol, no but the owner of the shop was within earshot and he heard of course. He didn't know the girls were my friends until they told him afterwards.

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                              ruthless2 Jul 25, 2012 03:18 AM

                              Here in Miami where english is a second language to the majority of the population, the term of choice (mostly for those who grew up speaking spanish) when speaking to a woman is "Lady". I know it is meant to be respectful (like señora) but it really sounds awful to me. Hate it.

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                              1. re: ruthless2
                                sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 04:11 AM

                                ESL folks in Europe know that "Missus" is the English equivalent of "Madame", so I've been well-meaningly called "Missus" more times than I can count.

                                I chuckle inwardly, but appreciate their trying to do the right thing. My students, however, hear a gentle correction.

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                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  BabsW Jul 25, 2012 07:04 AM

                                  Speaking of ESL students - I'm a former ESL teacher as well, and one year I had a lovely lady from The Philippines as a student. She always addressed me as "Ma'am," which sounded like "Mom" in her accent. It always made me smile. Another young lady from Bangladesh used "Missus," pronounced as "Missee," which made me actually crack up the first time I heard it.

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                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    Bill Hunt Jul 25, 2012 07:46 PM

                                    Well, as I am originally from Mississippi, I do understand ESL - Mississippian is my "first language," and English is # 2, hence my use of "Ma'am," so very often.

                                    Hunt

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                                2. Bill Hunt Jul 24, 2012 09:55 PM

                                  "Sir," or "Mr. Hunt" works for me.

                                  "Boss," "sport," or "dude," "stud," and "hoss," are not to my liking. but maybe that is just me.

                                  Unless the server is my "family server" at Galatoire's, or someone, who has served me over the decades, I like to keep things a bit formal.

                                  Hunt

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                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    kattyeyes Jul 25, 2012 06:28 AM

                                    "Stud," really? HA HA, I think I've heard anyone addressed that way precisely once in this lifetime...Olivia Newton-John's Sandy to John Travolta's Danny at the beginning of "You're the One That I Want"--"Tell me about it...stud!" For him in that movie and context, it certainly fits, but to think someone would say that to a restaurant patron is a bit beyond my understanding.

                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aataTb...

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                                    HippieChick Jul 24, 2012 01:12 PM

                                    Personally, I see nothing wrong or ageist in "ma'am". It's polite, courteous, applicable and it doesn't make judgments. I love it when I'm in England and servers or clerks call me "madam"...makes me feel like Her Majesty. I've started addressing people as "sir" and "ma'am" all the time, influenced by "Downtown Abbey"....

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                                    1. re: HippieChick
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                                      Harters Jul 25, 2012 01:07 AM

                                      Interesting. I wonder if you're being called "madam" because you're a foreigner and folk think you'd expect it.. It'd be rare for we native Britons to be addressed so formally except, perhaps, in certain upscale, formal, restaurants

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                                      StringerBell Jul 24, 2012 09:53 AM

                                      So according to this thread, one shouldn't use sir, ma'am, miss, Mrs., first name, Mr. last name (don't glance at my credit card that's creepy!). It's clear that you can't use any sign of respect when talking to strangers because SOMEONE will manage to find offense with it. The 88 year old woman who "tells people off" for calling her ma'am should probably just stay home and venture into public as infrequently as possible. Talk about picking your battles. It's not really even comprehensible to me how someone could take offense to being called "ma'am" in the first place, but even if you do, getting angry at some poor server for addressing you in a proper and respectful manner is so absurd it makes my head spin.

                                      What are these people supposed to do? First woman the server calls ma'am, she gets offended because she's insecure about her age. So the next woman he calls miss, she corrects him saying that she's married or she's far too old to be called miss. Next woman he calls Mrs., she says "I just got a divorce thank you." The next woman he calls "you," she bemoans the lack formality and politeness and thinks society is going to hell in a hand basket.

                                      Personally, I don't really care what I'm called,but I like Sir. The server can call me guy, boss, buddy, Jr., amigo, bro or whatever the hell he/she wants as long as he/she is polite and does a good job. I'm not uptight and ultimately it doesn't make any difference to my dining experience.

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                                      1. re: StringerBell
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                                        AngelaID Jul 24, 2012 05:00 PM

                                        Amen! Oh, my goodness, why would some of y'all even leave the house if a simple pleasantry, or habit of speech, so offends you?

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                                        1. re: AngelaID
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                                          debbiel Jul 24, 2012 05:29 PM

                                          Well, it seems to me that most people in this thread were stating a preference, not saying they took offense.

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                                          1. re: debbiel
                                            Kitchen Imp Jul 26, 2012 08:29 PM

                                            +1. Note that the OP asked how one *likes* to be addressed. It's in response to that that I replied about ma'am. It doesn't offend me in the slightest, it's just not what I like to be called. I would rather not be called anything.

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                                        2. re: StringerBell
                                          cowboyardee Jul 24, 2012 05:38 PM

                                          "Personally, I don't really care what I'm called,but I like Sir. The server can call me guy, boss, buddy, Jr., amigo, bro or whatever the hell he/she wants as long as he/she is polite and does a good job."
                                          ___________
                                          More or less sums up my take on the matter. As long as the server does a decent job and tries to be basically respectful, I'm happy.

                                          Yo String, where's Wallace?

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                                        3. linguafood Jul 24, 2012 07:13 AM

                                          Nobody ever addresses me by anything other than "good evening/hello/welcome to our restaurant, what can I get *you*.

                                          I am beginning to wonder how everyone else seems to have a different experience where an actual "addressing" takes place.

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                                          1. re: linguafood
                                            bagelman01 Jul 24, 2012 08:01 AM

                                            Experiences where actual addressing takes place;

                                            I approach the host's podium and say to the staff member I have a reservation in the name of X. The host replies: Good Evening Mr. X.

                                            I approach the coat/hat check to leav my coat/hat. The attendant says Good evening, Sir or to my wife, Good evening Madam, may I take your coats?

                                            I stop at the bar to get a beverage while waiting for our table to be ready, the bartender is like to ask 'what can I get you, Sir?'

                                            As someone who waited tables at resort hotels while going to college, I learned quickly that honorifics and civility brought bigger tips.

                                            When I dine at a private club I belong to, the Maitre D and servers will address me and my wife as Mr and Mrs X. Our single daughter will be addressed as Miss X. I don't have sons. When I was growing up and dined with my father at our in-town club or with the family at the country club, staff would address me as Master X to differentiate me from my father: Mister X.

                                            It was a big deal when after my Bar Mitzvah I began to receive mail addressed to Mr. not Master X and the staff at our clubs called me Mister. The staff at my father's business who had known me from birth called my father Mr. X (he was the boss) and my Brother and I (as young working adults) Mister 'first name' This gave us respect as adults but father was Mister X until his retirement, then I became Mr. X (brother had left the business).

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                                            1. re: bagelman01
                                              linguafood Jul 24, 2012 08:37 AM

                                              Our dining experiences differ vastly. Different cultures, perhaps.

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                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                Kitchen Imp Jul 26, 2012 08:28 PM

                                                I seem to be called "ma'am" wherever I go. Just this evening at our fave little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place, the earnest young server said to me, "Would you like a to-go box for that, ma'am?" It made me feel ancient. I'm not offended by it, just... I'd rather still feel like I'm in my 20s, when no one ever, ever called me "ma'am". Just sayin'.

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                                          2. CindyJ Jul 23, 2012 07:57 PM

                                            Call it a double standard, but while I think it's okay for a server to call a man "Sir," I think it's just plain awful for that same server to refer to a woman as "Ma'am." In fact, I can't think of any appropriate generic term for a server to use for a woman customer. The only acceptable option would be if the server referred to me as Ms. ______, based on information off my reservation.

                                            I would never, ever, ever introduce myself by name to a server in response to having a server introduce him/herself to me. That's just inappropriate. We're not there to make friends, we're there to dine. That said, if I were a regular customer at a particular restaurant, and got to know the server through repeat visits, first names, or again, Ms. _______ (especially in a fine dining establishment) might be appropriate. Don't even get me started on "You guys..."

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                                            1. re: CindyJ
                                              woodleyparkhound Jul 23, 2012 09:46 PM

                                              "Call it a double standard, but while I think it's okay for a server to call a man "Sir," I think it's just plain awful for that same server to refer to a woman as "Ma'am." In fact, I can't think of any appropriate generic term for a server to use for a woman customer."

                                              I'm with you 100%. "Sir" doesn't grate on my ears at all like "ma'am" does. Interesting.

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                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                bagelman01 Jul 24, 2012 04:50 AM

                                                Anerican English has the problem of very few gender nouns (unlike other languages. So in Spanish the male being addressed by the server would be Senor and the womam would be Senora (unless obviously young and single: Senorita<little Senora>). In British English Sir is a Title and the wife would be Lady, but in America it is considered rude to address a female as 'Lady' ....Sinatra had a big hit referring to the 'lady as a tramp'.

                                                Similarly, Mister an appropriate honorific for an adult male, has a female counterpart.Mistress. (Abbreviated Mrs.) BUT: to call a female Mistress could have disasterous results with the modern understanding that a mistress is akept women in a non-matrimonial relationship.

                                                German is simple, Herr and Frau, Hebrew G'ver (m) and G'veret (f). But until the American Lexicon develops gender specific honorifics which do not have derogatory connotations,servers will have a dilema as to which word to use.

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                                                1. re: bagelman01
                                                  sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 05:11 AM

                                                  So take the "generally accepted" honorifics (by both the conscripts of grammar and etiquette) and carry on.

                                                  Sir and Ma'am are both. You can choose to ignore it or you can choose to get offended.

                                                  Me? I don't have time or energy to get p.o.'d every time someone follows a societal convention.

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                                                  1. re: sunshine842
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                                                    redfish62 Jul 24, 2012 05:39 AM

                                                    As a man I find the Ma'am think really interesting, is it because it indicates a certain age?

                                                    I'm turning 50 in two months and pleased as punch about it, I like being a Sir.

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                                                    1. re: redfish62
                                                      sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 06:54 AM

                                                      only that a woman is old enough to be considered an adult.

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                                                  2. re: bagelman01
                                                    almond tree Jul 24, 2012 10:46 PM

                                                    In modern Hebrew, gever is used as a term of address only in slang, where it is similar to "Dude" in English --don't know if you would call that an honorific :).

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                                                    1. re: almond tree
                                                      bagelman01 Jul 25, 2012 04:59 AM

                                                      As stated much earlier in this thread, I am often accused of being archaic. My Hebrew is in a time warp of the 1950s and early 60s when I learned it originally. Both here and during more than 40 trips and extended stays in Israel, My ex-wife's parents grew up in Palestine before independence and came to the USA from Israel in 1953. During all the years of my first marriage conversation with the in-laws took place in their dated Hebrew.
                                                      Last trip to Israel, my wife and I were called G'ver and G'veret by the Maitre D at a fine Jerusalem Restaurant, granted the Maitre D was in his 70s <VBG>

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                                                      1. re: bagelman01
                                                        almond tree Jul 25, 2012 10:04 AM

                                                        So either the Maitre D was very old-fashioned or very trendy. These days it seems that "Adoni" is generally used similarly to "Sir."
                                                        BTW, my ex-in-laws, originally from Europe, also grew up in Palestine and left in the 1950s. But I always spoke with them in English.

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                                                        1. re: almond tree
                                                          bagelman01 Jul 25, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                          Adoni is actually Lord, not Sir, but I don't really no of a femine for it that could be used.

                                                          My ex-in-laws never used English in the house. It was always Hebrew First, Then German (she was from Germany, he was from Vienna). The other SIL only spoke English, so he didn't speak with the in-laws. I speak 6 languages, so had no problem, but found their language dated.

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                                                  3. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                    Bacchus101 Jul 24, 2012 05:13 AM

                                                    Yes it is interesting: the varied opinions here. Even in todays casual America there are standards of behavior in polite society. The lack of these standards has unfortunately and unfairly required all Americans traveling abroad to overcome the Ugly American moniker as we accept almost anything here as casual and just fine. Civility begins with polite communications, buster!

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                                                  4. re: CindyJ
                                                    danna Jul 24, 2012 05:21 AM

                                                    yes, I believe I will call it a double standard! I understand that perception is reality and I respect both of your feelings on this subject, but I can't for the life of me understand how you can logically explain why Sir is better than Ma'am.

                                                    I doubt I'm going to change your mind on this issue, but I do hope this thread has at least opened your eyes to the fact that servers calling you Ma'am are doing so out of respect, and not penalize them for it.

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                                                    1. re: danna
                                                      CindyJ Jul 24, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                      Maybe it has something to do with the fact that "ma'am" is a shortened version of "madam" -- and I simply do NOT want to be called madam.

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                                                      1. re: CindyJ
                                                        sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 06:55 AM

                                                        Please don't visit France. Your head will explode, because "Madame" is the polite form of address for *any* adult woman.

                                                        There's no way for anyone to know what someone else's hot buttons are:

                                                        Person A is offended if you call them by their first name.
                                                        Person B is offended if you call them by their last name.
                                                        Person C doesn't want to be madam or ma'am or sir
                                                        Person D really doesn't want you to talk to them at all.
                                                        Person E doesn't feel you have earned the personal history explanation as to why they are Miss or Mrs.
                                                        Person F despises "Ms"
                                                        Person G can't stand Buddy, Pal, Sweetie, or Hon
                                                        et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum

                                                        None of the people coming through the door are labeled, and may randomly appear in any of the categories above...perhaps even changing from one day to the next. What is anyone supposed to do? "Hey, asshole" probably isn't going to be acceptable to most people for quite some time to come, and when there is more than one person at a table, at some point, someone has to use *something* to indicate to whom they are addressing a question.

                                                        At some point, you have to choose to not get upset over something that was offered with no ill intent, and accept that society as a whole has come up with honorifics (sir, ma'am/madam) that are considered proper according to grammar and etiquette rules.

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                                                        1. re: sunshine842
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                                                          LeoLioness Jul 24, 2012 07:01 AM

                                                          One thing I've never fully understood in France: how do you know when "Mademoiselle" is appropriate as opposed to Madame? If you *think* someone looks like they could be 18-20, are they Madame? What if she is actually 17, or actually 25?

                                                          I did the best I could, but I do wonder sometimes how many gaffes I have made in my French travels!

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                                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                                            sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 07:09 AM

                                                            It's tricky, even for the French...but it's rapidly becoming acceptable to use "Madame" if she's old enough to have a job and paying her own rent. Some French towns have dropped "Mademoiselle" from their forms completely -- under the assumption (and not-inconsiderable pressure from feminist groups) that by the time a woman is old enough to need to fill out municipal forms in her own name, she's too old to be "mademoiselle" any longer.

                                                            There are exceptions - I have a 30+ acquaintance who's upper management, fiercely independent...and still insists on Mademoiselle.

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                                                            1. re: sunshine842
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                                                              LeoLioness Jul 24, 2012 07:13 AM

                                                              Thank you. I always erred on the "Madame" side (frankly, I'd rather piss off a teenager than an adult)..

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                                                              1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                                Heehee...and frankly, teenagers usually take it as a compliment -- that they are behaving maturely enough to be counted an adult.

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                                                              2. re: sunshine842
                                                                danna Jul 24, 2012 07:59 AM

                                                                In my former job as controller for an apparel firm, I once received a letter from a European concern, addressed to me as Madame Controller. That was my all-time favorite form of address, appropriate on a couple of levels, but I was unable to convince my staff to start calling me that. ;-)

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                                                                1. re: danna
                                                                  Gio Jul 24, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                                  And then we have... in the Real Old Days, sitting in committee using Robert's Rules of Order, being addressed as Madam Chairman...

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                                                            2. re: sunshine842
                                                              CindyJ Jul 24, 2012 07:23 AM

                                                              It's all about the context -- and in France "Madame" carries a different context than it does here. Or so it is my perception.

                                                              I don't "take offense" when I'm addressed as "ma'am" -- it's just that to me, personally, it doesn't feel appropriate. I do, however, mind being referred to as "you guys" and I think it's reflective of poor training/lack of training on the part of the restaurant. I mean, picture this -- there I am having dinner at a fairly nice restaurant with a group of my women friends, all of us mid-50s to mid-60s, and the server comes over and asks, "How are you guys doing tonight?" ARRRGGGHHH!!! Like fingernails on a chalkboard!

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                                                            debbiel Jul 24, 2012 07:08 AM

                                                            There may not be a logical explanation, but when a word grates on you, it grates. Ma'am used to bother me a lot. As I age, not so much.

                                                            Here is one difference between Sir and Ma'am: Sir can be used for any age. In a formal setting, Sir might be used for a young boy through to an old man. Not so for the female titles. At some point a Miss becomes a Madam. The addition of age as a factor makes it different and perhaps for some an uncomfortable title. And then, as Cindy J pointed out, there is the other definition of Madam.

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                                                              LeoLioness Jul 24, 2012 07:12 AM

                                                              I agree with that. We need an all-purpose title (a la "Ms.") that isn't age-dependent.

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                                                              1. re: debbiel
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                                                                redfish62 Jul 24, 2012 07:14 AM

                                                                At the gym all the young guys call each other "bro" but they call me "sir."

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                                                                  redfish62 Jul 24, 2012 07:25 AM

                                                                  Referring to someone as "Old woman" is definitely out of bounds.

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                                                                2. re: debbiel
                                                                  bagelman01 Jul 24, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                                  "Sir can be used for any age" In CAN be used, but not correctly! A minor male is properly addressed as Master, not Sir.
                                                                  This negates your gender differential of a change in verbiage as the person ages.
                                                                  Master-->Sir
                                                                  Miss--->Madam (or Ms.)
                                                                  Ma'am is merely either sloppy/lazy or regional dialect, a contraction that slipped from written to spoken American English.

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                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                    MGZ Jul 24, 2012 07:54 AM

                                                                    Slipped or evolved?

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                                                                    1. re: MGZ
                                                                      bagelman01 Jul 24, 2012 10:28 AM

                                                                      slipped...merely meaning a move from one category to another.
                                                                      The contraction evolved from the fully spelled word.

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                                                                    2. re: bagelman01
                                                                      sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 08:42 AM

                                                                      I can assure you that it is not only grammatically correct, but dates to the 17th century, and is used by people of higher-than-average intellect and education all over the English-speaking world.

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                                                                        LeoLioness Jul 24, 2012 08:52 AM

                                                                        So does the fact that "master" is very rarely used in American English to address a young man mean that everyone is wrong or perhaps that etiquette doesn't live in a vacuum and instead, evolves with the changing times?

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                                                                        1. re: bagelman01
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                                                                          MelMM Jul 24, 2012 09:32 AM

                                                                          It's not sloppy/lazy/regional dialect, nor is it limited to American English. Ma'am used to be more common in British English that it is now (I am talking 200 yrs ago) for addressing a woman of higher rank. It fell out of favor in modern times, to the point that it is now rarely used except when addressing royalty. It remained in common usage in the Southern US.

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                                                                          1. re: MelMM
                                                                            Kitchen Imp Jul 26, 2012 08:26 PM

                                                                            Listen carefully on BBC cop shows, and you'll notice that the female chief or inspector is always called "ma'am" by all under her in terms of rank. (Pronounced more like "mom" than like "mam".)

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                                                                              Harters Jul 27, 2012 10:11 AM

                                                                              When the late Princess Margaret (the Queen's sister) was visiting my workplace, we were told to address her as "mam, to rhyme with Pam".

                                                                              The "mom" pronunciation will be a matter of regional accents - British cop shows which feature senior women detectives are generally based in the south east of the country (around London). They talk funny in those parts - can barely understand them myself.

                                                                              More likely is that it's a matter of acting so as not to sound odd. Our usual terms for mother are "mum" or "mam" (often depending on which part of the country you are from and/or your social class) and it probably strikes the programme directors that it wouldnt sound right to be called your boss as you might call your mother. Hence

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                                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                                huiray Jul 27, 2012 05:53 PM

                                                                                Eh, yew must mean cockney. What's wiv da 'angin' "Hence"?

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                                                                    Querencia Jul 23, 2012 04:57 PM

                                                                    Let's not forget the servers who address a couple three times their age as "Guys": Hi Guys, You Guys, Are You Guys Having Dessert, How're You Guys Doin', etc etc.

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                                                                      2roadsdiverge Jul 31, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                      We don't have that problem in the south. We just say "folks".

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                                                                        deet13 Jul 31, 2012 04:18 PM

                                                                        Or we say, "y'all."

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                                                                          tommy Jul 31, 2012 05:14 PM

                                                                          Which part of the south? I've heard sir and ma'am in some parts an awful lot. Here in the northeast, I use "folks" quite a bit.

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                                                                        redfish62 Jul 23, 2012 03:44 PM

                                                                        I'm getting used to "Sir" now that my hair is getting pretty grey, I like to encourage young people to be polite.

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                                                                          lemons Jul 23, 2012 03:34 PM

                                                                          Y'know I'm wondering if this objection to "ma'am" is related to some people being reluctant to be seen as a full-fledged adult. I first remember hearing the objection during the Vietnam War years, when the antiestablishment wave began. It's no longer particularly desirable to be seen as mature, suave and sophisticated. YMMV, of course.

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                                                                          1. re: lemons
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                                                                            mojoeater Jul 23, 2012 03:57 PM

                                                                            I have an 88 year old client who will tell you off if you call her ma'am. She's a tiny woman with a tight, white bun on top of her head.

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                                                                            1. re: lemons
                                                                              woodleyparkhound Jul 23, 2012 09:43 PM

                                                                              That's an interesting observation - food for thought.

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                                                                            2. coll Jul 23, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                              I just remembered a website that was talking about Brooklyn colloquialisms, and I seem to recall (referring to initial post) that Boss or Buddy is a compliment, but Chief is an insult.....very subtle differences.

                                                                              I found it really easy, so here goes: Boss is a sign of goodwill, and Big Boss is even better. However Pal or Buddy is sarcastic. And Chief is the worst insult. So (at least around here) some of these terms are actually complimentary when you don't know someone's real name. If you buy into that, anyhow.

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                                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                                huiray Jul 23, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                                Most websites that cite those Brooklynisms (e.g. http://www.freegolfinfo.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=352896&mpage=1&key=&#352896) appear to point to http://www.lampos.com/brooklyn.htm as the source.
                                                                                :-)

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                                                                                  coll Jul 23, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                                                  Yup that's the one. I got a kick of this site myself.

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                                                                                lemons Jul 23, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                                                All this goes to prove that no matter what a server says, except possibly using no form of address, someone doesn't like it. I do a full-scale rant on the subject of "young lady". It's either sarcastic or condescending, depending on the age of the (why is it always male?) server. It grates on me so much I once actually told a server, "Please don't call me 'young lady'." Next course he did it again. And this in a restaurant where DH was very well known and server could easily have addressed me as Mrs. Surname.

                                                                                I admit I'm of the generation and background that was expected to use ma'am in particular, and I find myself still doing it when in certain situations...like, say, when a policewoman pulls me over?

                                                                                When I was nursing - as in "working in a hospital", not "feeding my child" - I always made a point of asking how people pronounced their name and writing it phonetically on the front fo the chart. My actual last name can be mispronounced as an ethnic slur, and it's impossible to get some folks to change theri pronunciation.

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                                                                                1. re: lemons
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                                                                                  Harters Jul 23, 2012 01:06 PM

                                                                                  Our local hospital, where I'm a volunteer, is currently discussing how patients should be addressed - particularly when there is a group in a waiting area and it's time for one to be called in to the doctor. The current way is to call out "John Smith" but we are likely to be moving to a situation where patients are given a numbered ticket and are called by number. It protects patient confidentiality and, as lemons suggests, eliminates the possible mispronounciation issues.

                                                                                  On a personal level, I dislike being called by my first name by a doctor unless the doctor is happy to be similarly addressed (I have never known a doctor tell me to call them, say, Janet. I feel somewhat patronised and, certainly, feel that I am not an equal partner in the conversation.

                                                                                  Yes, I know this is at a tanget to the OP but it is a further symptom of society.

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                                                                                  1. re: Harters
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                                                                                    lemons Jul 23, 2012 03:32 PM

                                                                                    When it comes to my physicians, now that I am older than half of them, and make no secret of my profession (now retired), if they do not address me by title and surname, I begin to address them as Ralph or whatever. That said, many of my docs are former pups of mine that I knew when they were just wee little baby doctors (not pediatricians, of course) and it is immediately a case of "Hi, Boris," "Hi, Natasha". That's different, of course. I've also chastised office staff who called my 95 y/o MIL retired schoolteacher by her first name. But I too digress.

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                                                                                2. petek Jul 23, 2012 10:51 AM

                                                                                  "My Lord" or "Your Highness" is always proper...

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                                                                                    LeoLioness Jul 23, 2012 10:42 AM

                                                                                    I'm not that particular, and context is everything. I don't mind when the all-of-20 year old girl who works in the neighborhood sub shop calls me "hon", but I'd certainly find it strange if someone did in a fine dining place.

                                                                                    I'm of that age where "ma'am" makes me feel old and "miss" makes me feel patronized--I had to think how I'm usually addressed in restaurants and I think most err on the side of caution and don't apply a label to me.

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                                                                                    1. nsenada Jul 22, 2012 05:50 PM

                                                                                      I was once called "monsignor" at a weird old French restaurant in Lewiston, ME. I assume the waiter was new and hadn't been taught how to say monsieur. The most galling thing was I just became a Cardinal shortly before.

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                                                                                      1. ladooShoppe Jul 22, 2012 04:37 PM

                                                                                        90% of the restaurants we eat in are Chinese restaurants where the servers never talk to you or even look at you. They just want you to order, eat, pay and get out. Lol.

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                                                                                        1. RUK Jul 22, 2012 04:29 PM

                                                                                          Well, I had to ask! The answer was: "Husband dear" , it seems to work just fine around here. :-)

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                                                                                          1. Veggo Jul 22, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                            Similar to the USPS, get my 'address' right, or the meal is 'return to sender'. Apologies to Elvis.

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                                                                                            1. Rilke Jul 22, 2012 09:54 AM

                                                                                              Just please not "hon". Every time a waitress calls me "hon" I wish I had the nerve to tell her to stop. Maybe someday.

                                                                                              But most servers call me "ma'am". If I am dining alone (which I enjoy), I usually tell him or her my first name. Otherwise, "ma'am" is appropriate and fine with me.

                                                                                              I am 26.

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                                                                                                rasputina Jul 22, 2012 07:58 AM

                                                                                                As long as they aren't calling me names I don't care.

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                                                                                                  missmu Jul 21, 2012 01:13 PM

                                                                                                  I'd say in 99.99% of cases, my server has never had the need to address me. If they need to get my attention, I usually get "hi there" or "excuse me." Otherwise, it's eye contact and "how are you doing?" or "is everything alright?"

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                                                                                                  1. kubasd Jul 21, 2012 01:00 PM

                                                                                                    I was raised to address others as Sir or Ma'am regardless of age, and I prefer to be called Ma'am. I'm a 27 year old female, fyi.

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                                                                                                      zzDan Jul 21, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                                                                      I like to be addressed as chief. As in "What are you having chief?" or "What'll ya have, Chief?"

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                                                                                                        mojoeater Jul 21, 2012 06:48 AM

                                                                                                        When traveling, my husband and I often sit at the bar when dining. It is not unusual for us to offer our first names and even request his/hers if not offered. After all, we'll be there for at least an hour and it's much easier to say 'Joe, may I have another napkin/beer?' since bartenders are busy and often not facing you. It also ensures we are remembered if we return and sometimes results in more conversation and even invitations to events/activities with the locals.

                                                                                                        When I waited tables I never called anyone ma'am.

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                                                                                                          huiray Jul 21, 2012 08:37 AM

                                                                                                          Is that in the USA only or all over the world?

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                                                                                                            randyjl Jul 21, 2012 08:53 AM

                                                                                                            Hmmm...a lot to ponder in these posts. I was brought up to call other, especially older, adults as sir or ma'am. These were not a reference to station in life, but a show of mutual respect. The tone of voice used often shows your meaning far more than the title used. So much civiliity has been lost in our "me first" society; every little bit of respect is welcome.

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                                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                              mojoeater Jul 21, 2012 03:32 PM

                                                                                                              All over the US, though during our last trip to Mexico we did befriend some of the locals and were very pleased with their suggestions for fun and dining. We have yet to travel to Europe together.

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                                                                                                            akq Jul 20, 2012 05:52 PM

                                                                                                            I love calling my boss "Boss" for some reason.

                                                                                                            I prefer ma'am or Ms. Q, if they know my name from the rezzie. Never my first name except if we are friends like the people at the coffee shop in my building.

                                                                                                            If it's a Nana-type talking to me, I love "Dear" or "Hun." And if it's a homey "ethinic" place, I do often enjoy being called "my Friend" or "Amiga."

                                                                                                            I don't know what to make of the "heirarchy" comments in the thread - I'd refer to the server as sir/ma'am (or maybe miss if it's a very young woman) unless she/he tells me to call them by their first name (and I actually remember it, which is not likely). If the server says "Hello, I'm Jeff and I'll be your server tonight" I don't ever respond to request Jeff calls me by my first name as well.

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                                                                                                            1. re: akq
                                                                                                              woodleyparkhound Jul 21, 2012 01:01 AM

                                                                                                              ""Hello, I'm Jeff and I'll be your server tonight" I don't ever respond by requesting that Jeff call me by my first name as well."

                                                                                                              Neither do I. Nor do I call him Jeff after that. This is a mildly annoying practice.

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                                                                                                            2. whs Jul 20, 2012 04:53 PM

                                                                                                              I like "you guys" esp when a woman is present

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                                                                                                              1. re: whs
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                                                                                                                eepi Jul 20, 2012 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                I actually don't mind "you guys," and I'm a woman. It's sort of the not-Southern version of "y'all" in my mind. I wish they'd call my husband "Gramps" or "Daddy-O" because I would laugh and laugh... as for me, "Your Grace" is always nice. I usually get "hun," which I suppose is better than "Attilla" or "Hey you." If I were dining in fine restaurants, probably just brief eye contact would be best. I imagine there are ways that waiters/waitresses can be coached to avoid calling the customer anything. "Ma'am" does make me feel old, but I'm not Southern - and I'm aging and I have a wedding ring so what else would they call me, really... I never knew I had so many thoughts on this.

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                                                                                                              2. huiray Jul 20, 2012 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                "Sir".

                                                                                                                If I am known by name, then "Mr X" (or "Dr X" in some cases).

                                                                                                                "先生" works in appropriate restaurants.

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                                                                                                                1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                  Veggo Jul 20, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                                                                                  I am Mister L in casinos. Pretty standard that anyone being comped is just an initial.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                    huiray Jul 20, 2012 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                    I assume "L" is the initial for your last name. I am using "Mr X" in my post as "Mr MyLastName".

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                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                      bagelman01 Jul 20, 2012 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                      Veg.............
                                                                                                                      This relate sto the thead 'do you like it when your server recognizes you.

                                                                                                                      Casino personnel are trained not to mention any player's name in public. The player may not want it known that they are gambling/winning/losing or to be set up for foul p[lay after leaving the table.

                                                                                                                      Thug sees Mister X winning big bucks, hears croupier call him Joe Smith, slips bell captain or valet a $100 to find out which car belongs to Joe Smith or which room Joe Smith is staying in. Joe Smith gets robbed or harmed. NO WAY will the casino accept that exposure.

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                                                                                                                  2. Veggo Jul 20, 2012 04:47 PM

                                                                                                                    I prefer senor Veggo. Even though I'm Danish.

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                                                                                                                      Harters Jul 20, 2012 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                      I'm perfectly content to be called "Sir" if there's a need to call me anything (most times, there isn't).

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                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                        sunshine842 Jul 20, 2012 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                        No Geezer or Guv'nor? I'm so disappointed. ;)

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                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                          deet13 Jul 20, 2012 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                          I expect nothing less than a clearly articulated, "Mi'lord" followed by a graceful curtsey, or a prompt bow...

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                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            Harters Jul 21, 2012 03:18 AM

                                                                                                                            Both very southern terms, sunshine. Round these parts, it'd be "Boss" or, more usually, "mate". Points very much deducted if someone actually called me that in a restaurant, regardless of how casual it was.
                                                                                                                            I did, however, regularly call a particular boss, "Boss" - I was never sure if she liked it or not - she never gave an indication.

                                                                                                                            My preference is, as someone posted upthread, simply "you" - as in "Are you ready to order?"

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                                                                                                                        2. Bacardi1 Jul 20, 2012 12:20 PM

                                                                                                                          It depends on the restaurant. At our local little diner, we're usually addressed as "Hun", & that's fine with us. When at our local sandwich-shop type place, "Dear" works for us as well. At any of our fine-dining places, it's always been "sir" & "madam", which for us is proper.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                            Motosport Jul 20, 2012 12:21 PM

                                                                                                                            In Bawlmer, MD it's always Hon!

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                                                                                                                            Jjjr Jul 20, 2012 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                            If I am not addressed as 'Your Excellency,' I do not make a repeat visit.
                                                                                                                            My first and only visit to McDonald's, for example, was in 1978.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: Jjjr
                                                                                                                              Motosport Jul 20, 2012 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                              Exalted Grand Poobah!!

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                                                                                                                              1. re: Motosport
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                                                                                                                                Jjjr Jul 20, 2012 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                                I'll accept that as well. Along with (to be spoken verbatim): 'Mr/Mrs Lastname.'

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                                                                                                                              mochamike Jul 20, 2012 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                              I think sir and ma'am is a good standard to go by, but it's highly dependent on the restaurant setting. A nice restaurant?Definitely. A fun family focused establishment? Really anything that's friendly is good for me :)

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                                                                                                                              1. BiscuitBoy Jul 20, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                I prefer "Sweety" from the waitresses, "Sir" from the waiters..."my man," "pal," "boss" are fine too

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                                                                                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 Jul 20, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                  Ugh. I cannot stand honey-sweetie-darlin-baby-sugar. Even my other half doesn't call me by those names, and never has.

                                                                                                                                  I will nicely request that it not be used once or twice, but I've left more than one establishment for continuing to call me by pet names after I've asked them not to (and that extends to non-restaurants)

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                                                    acgold7 Jul 20, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                                    Okay, punkin'.

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                                                                                                                                      kattyeyes Jul 20, 2012 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                      Big wink, acgold7. ;) I'm 43, neither someone's wife nor mother. Ma'am grates on me and makes me feel like a senior citizen. "Miss" suits me just fine. In fact, folks in the South have sometimes called me Miss Katty, which I find charming. "Miss? Excuse me, Miss?" That's me. And I have no issue with "hey, babydoll, or honey dear, or sweetie pie!"
                                                                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcHkQ...
                                                                                                                                      "I could bust!"

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                                                                                                                                    2. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                      linguafood Jul 21, 2012 04:41 AM

                                                                                                                                      Well, if it's one of the few places where someone actually calls you sweetie, I can understand :-D

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                        sunshine842 Jul 21, 2012 04:59 AM

                                                                                                                                        it's more common than you think -- it always seemed to be worse when I was traveling by myself.

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                                                                                                                                  2. f
                                                                                                                                    FrankJBN Jul 20, 2012 11:35 AM

                                                                                                                                    I am surprised that the OP and others don't like to be addressed as "Sir.", which by the way is not a "nick-name", but rather an honorific.

                                                                                                                                    How do you address strangers? "Excuse me, sir..."

                                                                                                                                    I prefer to be addressed as Sir. If my server introduces themselves by name, I will address them by name, but that does not mean that I wish to be addressed by my name by he or she.

                                                                                                                                    As noted above "It's business transaction, not a budding friendship" and in this transaction I am the superior party. I instruct the server as to what he or she is to do in the course of our business relationship. I pay the server. We are not equal partners.

                                                                                                                                    Some people like to profess an egalitarinism in all things in this the 21st century, but anybody that says they don't want their server to "obey" their "commands" is being disingenuous. "Could you bring another cup of coffee?" is merely disguised as a request. We have all read how folks will discount a tip for far lesser reasons than a server responding "No." to such a "request".

                                                                                                                                    I have been called both "Buddy" and "Man". After the meal (because the reality is one cannot trust a waiter who will address a patron as "Buddy") I will advise them of their error.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: FrankJBN
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                                                                                                                                      2roadsdiverge Jul 31, 2012 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                                      "How do you address strangers? 'Excuse me, sir...'"

                                                                                                                                      What's wrong with "Excuse me..."?

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: 2roadsdiverge
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                                                                                                                                        mochamike Aug 1, 2012 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                        I'd agree, but oftentimes people don't realize you're speaking to them right away, and I find adding "sir" helps direct it a bit better. : )

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: 2roadsdiverge
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                                                                                                                                          FrankJBN Aug 1, 2012 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                          "What's wrong with "Excuse me..."?"

                                                                                                                                          It evinces a lack of respect in that the speaker cannot be bothered to personally acknowledge and address the person spoken to.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                                                                                            tommy Aug 1, 2012 12:55 PM

                                                                                                                                            In what country?

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                                                                                                                                        rochfood Jul 20, 2012 11:09 AM

                                                                                                                                        I prefer "Your excellency"
                                                                                                                                        And a little heel clap when they walk away.

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                                                                                                                                          Hobbert Jul 20, 2012 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                          I prefer ma'am; miss is fine, too. I'm not trying to relate to the server on anything but a professional level. I'm paying them for a service, not to be my friend. I'm a 30 year old woman.

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                                                                                                                                          1. sunshine842 Jul 20, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                            Ma'am, if you have to address me by a name at all. (I think this is heavily regional, too -- in the southern US, ma'am is a completely acceptable (and respectful) form of address for any woman older than about 18.

                                                                                                                                            It's business transaction, not a budding friendship -- and that's not being elitist....just prefer to be treated like a customer. And servers? Do not plunk yourself down at my table and write your name on my table. Especially do not dot the i's with little hearts. You're a server, not a kindergarten teacher, and if I want you to sit with me, I'll invite you.

                                                                                                                                            If you're a regular in that establishment, then the rules shift as everyone is comfortable.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                              Kitchen Imp Jul 20, 2012 10:51 AM

                                                                                                                                              18! WOW! I always thought ma'am meant someone middle-aged, older than the speaker and thus requiring respect.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                                                                sunshine842 Jul 20, 2012 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                To me, "miss" is a little girl. Once you have a job and are paying your own way, I reckon you deserve to be addressed as a grownup.

                                                                                                                                                I have always used Ms. for my entire adult life -- it's a title showing at least a modicum of respect, without the awkwardness of having to explain my personal life/marital status to anyone. (Mr. doesn't have to be explained...why should Miss/Mrs?)

                                                                                                                                                It's still not universal, but most adult women in Europe prefer to be called Madame or Senora or Frau....for the same reason....at some point you have earned to be spoken to as a responsible adult woman, and not as a little girl just marking time until Prince Charming shows up.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                  Kitchen Imp Jul 20, 2012 09:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I have no problem with being called Ms. (though I'm actually Dr.). I do not want to be called "ma'am," and I have no desire whatsoever to be called "miss". I've been too old to be called "miss" since I turned about 25. I don't understand what is wrong with a simple "you," as in, "and what can I get for you?" Why throw in "ma'am"?

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 Jul 20, 2012 11:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                    that's why my first sentence included "if you have to address me by a name at all"

                                                                                                                                                    I prefer Ms to Ma'am....but don't consider Ma'am to be a foul.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                                                                      woodleyparkhound Jul 21, 2012 12:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                      "I don't understand what is wrong with a simple "you," as in, "and what can I get for you?" Why throw in "ma'am"?"

                                                                                                                                                      Agree 100%

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                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                                                                    danna Jul 23, 2012 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Absolutely not. I'm beyond shocked at the number of women in this thread who have said they find Ma'am offensive. On the contrary, Ma'am is a term of respect and I would never think about calling someone "Miss" unless they were clearly too young to possibly be married...say 18 or under. Everyone deserves respect, it doesn't matter if they are older or younger than yourself.

                                                                                                                                                    woodleyparkhound: what's wrong with "you"? well sometimes it's just rude. Sometimes you have to get someone's attention, or indicate to whom you are speaking. Would you really rather year "Hey, You!" ?

                                                                                                                                                    One of our V.P.s is driven crazy by the restaurant in bldg and their insistance on a first name when we place an order. He tells them "Moe". Whoever screams out "Moe" when his food is ready always looks confused when the table cracks up. (accountants...we're easily amused)

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danna
                                                                                                                                                      coll Jul 23, 2012 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                      When someone with a southern accent calls me ma'am, I just melt! Not something you hear everyday up north.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                        danna Jul 23, 2012 12:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Funny how a one syllable word can out you as a Southerner....but I suppose that's because it's not actually one syllable once we get through with it.

                                                                                                                                                        This thread has taught me to lighten up about a couple of little peaves of mine (i also don't like "no problem" or giving my first name to be called out and have the pronounciation slaughtered). Since I think a lot of people responding to this thread are uptight about stuff...that probably means I'm being silly too. So I officially am relaxing my stance on those. ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: danna
                                                                                                                                                          coll Jul 23, 2012 12:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Ma'am to me is either southern born, or military. When I used to hire servers for my restaurant, I couldn't resist either, both are so mannerly. But I'm in NY so it doesn't take much!

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                                                                                                                                                      2. re: danna
                                                                                                                                                        woodleyparkhound Jul 23, 2012 09:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                        As I said above, I like "you" as in "what can I get for you?" There is no reason to toss a "ma'am" in there. "Hey, you" is obviously rude and not what I was referring to. "Excuse me" would do just fine in that case. Adding a "ma'am" isn't going to make me automatically think the person is addressing me.

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                                                                                                                                                    MonMauler Jul 20, 2012 09:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                    As someone that dines out often, and usually alone, sir is absolutely fine by me and the most common address I hear. The others I've heard - boss, buddy, hun, sweetie, etc. - don't bother me in the least but definitely seem unprofessional in even the most laid back of settings.

                                                                                                                                                    I am, however, a regular at several establishments near where I live, and I have no problem with any of the staff at these places referring to me by my first name, which is often the case.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. viperlush Jul 20, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Madam, Ma'am, Sir, Miss, etc. don't bother me because at least the server is trying to be polite and respectful. And at the end of the day that's all that matters. However Dude, Boss, Buddy, Young Lady, etc. annoy me because they are too casual. So does using my first name because I don't offer it. And I expect to be called hun or sweetie at a diner, actually a little disappointed when I'm not.

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                                                                                                                                                        jacquelyncoffey Jul 20, 2012 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Ma'am and Sir are fine with me, I absolutely hate when a server refers to us as "you guys" as in "Hi guys, how are you guys doing?" Very unprofessional and rude IMO.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jacquelyncoffey
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                                                                                                                                                          alwayshungrygal Jul 31, 2012 07:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                          +1 on hating "you guys." Most of the places where I eat out are not fine dining, and I get the "you guys" way too often. I remember when I was about 7 months pregnant with a huge belly and a host(ess) greeted me and my husband with "how are you guys this evening?" I was not in the best of moods (I was 7 months pregnant!) and answered "do I look like a guy to you?" My now-25 year old son hates when I object to being called a guy, but then again, he's never been called a gal. Bonus points on a servers tip if I don't get called a guy or if they stop calling me one after I say something.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal
                                                                                                                                                            tommy Aug 1, 2012 07:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Perhaps it's a generational thing, but "guys" is no longer gender specific. Clearly.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                              coll Aug 1, 2012 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                              I'm following these comments intently, because I never realized how some people are disgusted by "you guys". It's a friendly form of greeting here where I live, not an insult. It's really the exact same thing as you-all; is it the gender thing that bothers people? I was always under the impression that it was rooted in Irish colloquiallisms, by the immigrants early last century? I am becoming self conscious about it.......but still using it daily!

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                kattyeyes Aug 1, 2012 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Friendly form of greeting 'round here, too, unless I'm completely oblivious to the fact I'm irritating people when I say it. ;)

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                  Veggo Aug 1, 2012 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  This is a useful forum for us old farts to get caught up with contemporary mores. I have never addressed a group that included women as "you guys", but if gals are willing to be part of the guys, I'll recalibrate my thinking, although I'm still unlikely to use the term in mixed company.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                    huiray Aug 1, 2012 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Familiarity Breeds Contempt.

                                                                                                                                                                    That is still true, in this day and age.

                                                                                                                                                                    DO NOT call me and my party "You Guys" unless you knew us personally or we were (inexplicably) at a Frat House party.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                      tommy Aug 1, 2012 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      No problem dude.

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                                                                                                                                                                2. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                                  kattyeyes Aug 1, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  +1...c'mon, who doesn't remember the beginning to The Electric Company...I never thought "guys" didn't mean me, too. :) HEY, YOU GUYYYYYYYYYYYS!
                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C797vk...

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                                                    bagelman01 Aug 1, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    This old timer thinks the "Electric Company" is CL&P or UI...............................

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think calling a group (2 or more people) that includes female(s) guys is appropriate. My 50+ wife agrees, my 24YO daughter has no problem with it My 90 year old mother gave a waitress a dressing down recently when our group of Mother, wife, 2 daughters and I were addressed as 'guys.'

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                      kattyeyes Aug 1, 2012 09:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Heartily laughing out loud re CL&P or UI. I agree with tommy--must be generational as I've never given it a second thought. You guys = folks = y'all = people. I'm just REALLY, REALLY glad I don't wait tables or tend bar anymore!

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                                                        tommy Aug 1, 2012 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Oh sure. Can you imagine being in the position to have to hear life lessons from people who don't understand that there are societal and generational differences? I wouldn't be able to bite my tongue.

                                                                                                                                                                        I think I'll go to work as a waiter, just so I can have people give me life lessons, and since I don't need the money, give it right back to them. That would be entertaining.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                                          kattyeyes Aug 1, 2012 09:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          PRECISELY...at least I was much younger when I was in that role, plus it was family business, so maybe people were just nice to me. I was thinking the exact same--even if I managed to keep my mouth shut, I'm not sure I could stop the eye roll.

                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, entertaining indeed! HEY, YOU GUYS, let's be kind to people who wait on us, please. They are doing their jobs and didn't show up to be lectured anymore than YOU did when you showed up at your job today.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                                                            huiray Aug 1, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Such a person as you describe is there as the server, in the general business of pleasing the customer. It is very good (for that person's sake and that of the restaurant business in general) that such a person no longer be in that line of work.

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                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                                            huiray Aug 1, 2012 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Then - after a person such as you describe is fired by the management (I sure as hell would be raising the issue vigorously with them) I will make sure it is widely known what sort of staff the establishment hires. Whereupon I hope the management sues the pants off that person for bringing such discredit to their name.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                              tommy Aug 1, 2012 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Sues? LOL!!!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                                                            bagelman01 Aug 1, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I posted specifically for you, knowing 95%+ of CHers would ave no idea what CL&P and UI are.
                                                                                                                                                                            The last time I waited tables was in 1974 at a resort hotel in the Catskills. Since the patrons were all registered guests waiters were given their names. The Maitre D's seating chart had colored pegs for the guests, Red for an adult married female, pink for a single female, Dark blue for an adult male, light blue for a male under 13. It was simple, look at the chart and know to say:
                                                                                                                                                                            Mr. X
                                                                                                                                                                            Mrs. X
                                                                                                                                                                            Miss X
                                                                                                                                                                            Master X
                                                                                                                                                                            Prior serving experience used Sir, Miss or Madam.

                                                                                                                                                                            I find it hard to teach my children 'correct' speech and manners and willinglyaccept the incorrect use of English by others addressing us.

                                                                                                                                                                            By far, the biggest offenders are NOT servers, but the faculty at my daughter's high school who are supposed 'professional' educators. The English teacher can't speak proper English, or spell correctly.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                              Karl S Aug 1, 2012 10:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              All the brothers in my family were addressed in correspondence as Master (and sometimes, even in person) by my aunts and uncles and older cousins until we turned 14, IIRC. (My youngest brother is 44 now, so this even continued into the 1980s.)

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                                                                                                                                                tommy Aug 1, 2012 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                I prefer "my lord."

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                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                MGZ Aug 1, 2012 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                What is "proper English"? The language has been changing since a time before it was even a language. In fact, it's language change that created the language itself. Is "proper English" really capable of being defined in some prescriptivist way? Should we all refer to Samuel Johnson before posting?

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                  bagelman01 Aug 1, 2012 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  MGZ---I have been referring to 'Proper American English' with the generally (academic) accepted rules of grammar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thus: I don't use a masculine term 'guys' to include females, the earlier mentioned 'folks' is an acceptable gender free term

                                                                                                                                                                                  I know that saying 'me and Dave went to the mall' is NOT proper English, it should be Dave and I went to the mall.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My biggest pet peeves (improper or incorrect speech) are the misuse of 'may' and can.'
                                                                                                                                                                                  "Mommy can I go out and play?" "Johnny, you are physically capable, but don't have permission."
                                                                                                                                                                                  AND the misuse of 'done' and 'finished.'

                                                                                                                                                                                  The turkey is done cooking. I finished cooking the turkey.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Where to check the proper English? An appropriate arbiter is Warriner's Grammar and Composition.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Many of us are old enough to remember when 7th and 8th grade English had daily grammar lessons and we learned how to diagram sentences and the correct parts of speech.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Last pet peeve: misuse of the apostrophe: It is very common in southern Connecticut to see menus that insert an apostrophe before and 's' to designate plural.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You cannot order 2 hamburger's or hot dog's. This winner was on a flyer a few years ago from my youngest daughter's school (announcing a spring BBQ).

                                                                                                                                                                                  If Americans are not taught grammar they are not aware of there misuse of the language. I am fully aware that language evovles, one can compare different editions of Warriner's to see changes. I still use 'shall' in the first person, but do not cringe when I hear someone else using 'will.'

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                    tommy Aug 1, 2012 01:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    What about Merriam-Webster?

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                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                              huiray Aug 1, 2012 11:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              @Bagelman: Bravo!

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                                                                                                                                                                          4. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                                            woodleyparkhound Aug 1, 2012 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I hear "you guys" as "y'all" - a way of non-gender-specific inclusion. To me, it just sounds friendly - and very informal. In an informal restaurant, it doesn't bother me at all. In a formal restaurant, it's out of place. For the record, I'm not young but I spend time with a lot of younger people.

                                                                                                                                                                            To me, "Ma'am" (offensive) is to "Sir" (inoffensive) as "gal" (offensive) is to "guy" (inoffensive). And again, when I say "Ma'am" and "gal" are offensive, I don't mean that I get outwardly upset when they are used in my direction, or ask the person to refrain - I don't at all, unless I'm being "ma'amed" every few seconds in a conversation I expect to be forced to remain in for some time - like Verizon customer service. I just bristle inwardly then go on my merry way.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                              Veggo Aug 1, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm amused and curious as to when women, in the U.S. at least, became comfortable being one of the guys. About the time of a Lou Reed song?

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                                coll Aug 1, 2012 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                I got used to it at work, since I usually worked with mostly "guys" and we were addressed as such by our bosses. It was about that time, actually. But nothing to do with that kind of thing. Guess you had to grow up around here, so many worse things you could be called!

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 Aug 1, 2012 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  about the time that my professional life revolved around construction sites and factories. Being one of the guys meant I got to write at least as many orders as the guys, and frequently more.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm another one from a region where "you guys" just means "the group of people to whom I am speaking".

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                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                                  tommy Aug 1, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I cannot find any reliable sources on the internet which suggest that "ma'am" is offensive or derogatory in any way in the US.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 Aug 1, 2012 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    but there sure are a lot of sources that suggest it's a title indicating respect!

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                                                                                                                                                                          5. Motosport Jul 20, 2012 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I prefer: "Good morning/afternoon/evening, how are you today!"
                                                                                                                                                                            Somehow "sir" irks me. After the 3rd "sir" I say, "please don't call me sir, I work for a living" It's a military thing.
                                                                                                                                                                            I have had several female clients ask me not to call them ma'am so I stopped. They said it makes them sound ancient.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Motosport
                                                                                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                                                                                              davidne1 Jul 20, 2012 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              "please don't call me sir, I work for a living" It's a military thing."

                                                                                                                                                                              That depends on where in the world you live. My father is a "Sir" by title, he doesn't expect to be called "Sir" though as most people know he has the title they address him as "Sir Robert"

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: davidne1
                                                                                                                                                                                Motosport Jul 20, 2012 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                USA military enlisted men generally feel that they do all of the heavy lifting while the officers (Sirs) don't "work for a living".
                                                                                                                                                                                I fogot for a moment that CH was global.

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                                                                                                                                                                            2. bagelman01 Jul 20, 2012 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I am old fashioned, my kids think I am archaic.

                                                                                                                                                                              I want servers to call me sir, or if they know my name because of the reservation list or it's a club I belong to, they may call me Mr. X (and my wife Mrs. X).

                                                                                                                                                                              It is never appropriate to call me by first name. First name use is for relatiives, and friends who have been given permission to use first names (we have exchanged first names). It is highlyoffensive for some 20 something to call a middle aged person by first name without permission.

                                                                                                                                                                              This applies to servers, tellers, staff in medical offices, etc.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                MGZ Jul 20, 2012 08:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Wow - that's almost pushing past archaic into anachronistic or elitist. Just curious, do you take the same approach to, say, a more junior lawyer who extends his hand and introduces himself with his first name?

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                  bagelman01 Jul 20, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  That all depends.....
                                                                                                                                                                                  Is that junior the opposing counsel? Was he introduced to me by a colleague, are we at a social setting?

                                                                                                                                                                                  But the biggest difference between that junior lawyer and a server, is that I am not a patron, but a fellow member of the bar with a Juris Doctor. Bar admission is the great equalizer, once you pass the test and are admitted, it doesn't matter which law school you attended or your social backgrounds you are 'bothers at the bar'

                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, if the young lawyer extends his hand and says I'm Larry Smith, I probably would say I'm Joe Attorney, but that introduction does not mean permission for fist naming had been given.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                    MGZ Jul 20, 2012 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                      linguafood Jul 20, 2012 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I always wait at least until the second date before I move on to fist naming.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                        bagelman01 Jul 20, 2012 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Smith (left) and Jones (right)..............
                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately my spinal stenosis is acting up and affecting my typing.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll treat it with a large glass of single malt this evening

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Jul 20, 2012 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          LOL... so bad!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01
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                                                                                                                                                                                          akq Jul 20, 2012 05:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          "bothers at the bar"? LOL!

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                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                          huiray Jul 20, 2012 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          "Wow - that's almost pushing past archaic into anachronistic or elitist."
                                                                                                                                                                                          ------
                                                                                                                                                                                          Really? Is that what you think? Wow.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ
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                                                                                                                                                                                            latindancer Jul 21, 2012 01:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            <Wow - that's almost pushing past archaic into anachronistic or elitist.>

                                                                                                                                                                                            How so? My children (who are now grown) had friends who addressed me as 'Mrs' and my husband 'Mr.'. I never corrected them and felt it refreshing and tremendously admirable that their parents had taught them respect for people they'd been introduced to who had not given them permission to do otherwise.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Our culture has become very casual in the way we address others. I am in total agreement with bagelman01. I do not call any of the professionals by their first name and would never think of doing so and elitism has nothing to do with it. Archaic? Most likely so, sadly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                                                              MGZ Jul 22, 2012 01:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              "Our culture has become very casual in the way we address others."

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, there's your anachronism. Time's change, applying yesterday's norms don't make it go back to the way it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                              As to elitism, I've basically explained my thoughts below.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              thursday Jul 28, 2012 02:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm only in my early 30s, and I still agree with bagelman - it irritates me to no end that every time I go to the grocery store, they hand me my card and say "Thanks, FirstName!" It's so disconcerting and feels presumptuous.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Ma'am does make me feel slightly old, but as a former server, sometimes you need to address someone as something - they drop a glove, and you need to say, "Excuse me? Ma'am?" I think "Hey you! You dropped this!" is far worse. Sir for men, Miss for young women (or women who seem like they might be offended by Ma'am - Miss always felt too young to call most patrons, but I'm in LA and there are a lot of people you, shall we say, are not comfortable with aging gracefully), ma'am for everyone else. My children call our close friends Aunt and Uncle because I don't like them using first names for adults; less close friends are Miss, Mrs., and Mr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: thursday
                                                                                                                                                                                                bagelman01 Jul 28, 2012 03:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                I appreciate your validation. When we were children, we were insrtructed to call our closest neighbors aunt and uncle. Other adults were always Mr and Mrs X. My children have been taught the same thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                My wife's niece and nephew (6+9) were at the house last night. They called my wife and myself by first names and were ignored until the honorifics Aunt and Uncle were used. Civility needs to be taught and reinforced. SIL seemed annoyed, BIL agreed with us.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, and maybe because my family was so small, only "real" aunts and uncles were addressed in that manner. For everyone else, it was "Mr. ____, " or "Miss ____." That "Miss" was not a reference to marital status, and I still use it with close friends, regardless of that marital status. For instance, "Miss Julie" is married for many years, and is about to become a grandmother, but she is still "Miss Julie" to me. That is most probably a "Southern thing," but is common to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: thursday
                                                                                                                                                                                                  woodleyparkhound Jul 28, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If I were the customer, I would prefer "Excuse me! I think you dropped this!". No one would actually say, "Hey, you!" in that situation. I think that is a false equivalency.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    thursday Jul 28, 2012 09:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know that I would say "Hey you," but I was shorthanding. I have had people (and have been on the receiving end myself) who completely ignore multiple "excuse me!"s, especially if you're in a crowded place and they're eager to be on their way/not be harassed. (I'm not saying fine dining here, I'm saying Starbucks or the equivalent.) You have to get their attention somehow, and a Sir or Ma'am usually does the trick.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 09:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. Having a server say "Hey fool! You dropped this," is probably not going to sit well, at least with me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: thursday
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 08:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, and since 95% of the female population of the US is older than me, the term "Ma'am" is used with zero disrespect. it is a term of honor, at least where I come from. Younger - older, it does not matter - at least to me. It IS a term of honor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Veggo Jul 31, 2012 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bill, when 95% of the female population was older than you, you were in kindergarten...:)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: bagelman01
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                                                                                                                                                                                                    gfr1111 Jul 21, 2012 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In James Clavell's "Noble House" the Americans repeatedly put their feet in their mouths by assuming familiarity with Brits who are almost complete strangers to them and calling the Brits by their first names, seemingly out of the blue. The Americans are just trying to be friendly (a bit like puppy dogs).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Brits are offended by the presumptuousness of the Americans. Finally, a Brit (the "Tai-Pan") takes pity on a particularly comely American woman and explains the faux pas: it may take you years to reach a first name basis with a Brit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As you said Bagelman, when it does happen, at least in British culture, it is a bit of an event and a sign of approval. In Britain, at least in 1963 when the book was set, you had to "earn" the honor of calling someone by his first name, and you couldn't unilaterally take it for yourself. The right had to be given to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I, like you, have felt the same way with some waiters. It is a bit of a shock when some waiter takes to calling you "Jeff," or whatever.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                                                                                                                                      woodleyparkhound Jul 21, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "I, like you, have felt the same way with some waiters. It is a bit of a shock when some waiter takes to calling you "Jeff," or whatever."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I also find it intrusive and a bit of a shock when someone looks down at my credit card or credit card slip then starts calling me Miz LastName. I didn't introduce myself and give you my name, so please don't use it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kitchen Imp Jul 22, 2012 07:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1. In complete agreement here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: gfr1111
                                                                                                                                                                                                        sunshine842 Jul 21, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It might have been the norm in 1963,but having done business all across the UK, I can tell you that they use my first name immediately after having been introduced, and indicated that Mr. and Mrs. with a surname hadnt been used in UK business for years.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Harters Jul 21, 2012 06:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You raise an interesting point, although the use of first names in British culture is now commonplace, even amongst relative strangers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          In similar vein, British English really has no words by which we can address a perfect stranger. There is none of the "senor", "monsieur", "meneer" of other European languages, nor is "Sir", as might be used by Americans, at all appropriate in our culture. I suspect it dates back to Victorian forms of etiquette where you would never speak to a stranger unless you had first been introduced to them.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                                                                                                            huiray Jul 21, 2012 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            By comparison...
                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_...
                                                                                                                                                                                                            :-D

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bacchus101 Jul 24, 2012 04:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, yes! But we, as noted in THE UGLY AMERICANS have taken lack of civility and manners to the furtherest extreme. Casual, cool or just ignorant??

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          beevod Jul 20, 2012 07:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wear a name tag.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            linguafood Jul 20, 2012 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's a tie for best answer between Gio and Beevod so far.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beevod
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bacchus101 Jul 24, 2012 04:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              That is it...a name tag. Love it....very funny..

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Gio Jul 20, 2012 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ma'am or Madam works for me but I really prefer Your Majesty...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                KSlink Jul 20, 2012 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                That was my initial thought too!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  gfr1111 Jul 21, 2012 05:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like "Your Graciousness."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MandalayVA Jul 22, 2012 04:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Screw that. I fully expect to be called "Goddess Above All" by anyone who meets me. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    /okay, I can deal with "ma'am"

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mommystar Jul 20, 2012 06:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm a middle aged woman and hate, hate hate it when I'm addressed as "young lady." It's always done by young male waiters. What are they thinking? It's just rude and disrespectful. Ma'am works for me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mommystar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    woodleyparkhound Jul 20, 2012 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can't STAND being called ma'am. That is just the worst; it runs right up my back and makes me feel 300 years old. Especially when customer service people on the phone use it two or three times per sentence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't like to be addressed as anything by a server. I see no reason for any form of address. Just talk to me!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      tzurriz Jul 20, 2012 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm in my early 30's and much prefer Ma'am to Miss. Miss is my 4 year old daughter, thanks. Although if I'm out without the kids, I'll gladly accept a Miss and may even smile and blush. ;)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kitchen Imp Jul 20, 2012 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1 on hating ma'am. Especially at the grocery store or in restaurants. I don't look older than mid-30s. The server is usually just a few years younger than me. Why make me feel old?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tinnywatty Jul 20, 2012 12:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          +100 on hating ma'am- I'm 21, why are you calling me ma'am??? I'm also not a fan of Ms. even though I understand that it exists so that people don't have to make assumptions about one's marriage status. The words just sound ugly to me. I like Miss right now but I suppose I'll have to get used to the others when I get older/married.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tommy Jul 31, 2012 06:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Funny how some people react to ma'am. In some parts of the country, let alone the world, ma'am doesn't imply any age. It's simply polite. Same with sir.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: woodleyparkhound
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            gfr1111 Jul 21, 2012 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, among little boys, it was DRILLED into us to call any unfamiliar woman "ma'am," as a term of respect. This was intended by both my parents to be a lifelong habit--and it stuck. It wasn't until I was watching "The West Wing" a few years ago, and one of the characters quipped about being "ma'amed" that I discovered that some--maybe most--women do not like to be "ma'amed." So what should I call a 73 year old woman--"Miss"? The poor waiter just wants to be repectful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: gfr1111
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              woodleyparkhound Jul 21, 2012 06:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As Kitchen Imp said below, ""I don't understand what is wrong with a simple "you," as in, "and what can I get for you?" Why throw in "ma'am"?""

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Will Owen Jul 23, 2012 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Sir" and Ma'am" are how an adult customer - or indeed any adult stranger - is correctly addressed. Them's the rules. I'm 71 years old and I address women in their twenties as Ma'am. That's how I was brought up, and fat chance I'll change it now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perhaps the best part of good manners is respecting those of others, instead of taking offense at anything unfamiliar or anything you personally would not do. Manners are supposed to be a lubricant, not an irritant, and it's dreadful manners to choose to be offended when they're employed. Lighten up.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kengk Jul 23, 2012 03:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amen to Will Owen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    latindancer Jul 23, 2012 04:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wonderful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      woodleyparkhound Jul 23, 2012 09:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was waiting for someone to pop up with a "lighten up" response. Thanks for not disappointing. Your saying "lighten up" isn't going to change the way it strikes me. It's the tone that frequently comes with it that grates, and if you aren't female you likely haven't heard it used with that tone. It isn't at all unfamiliar to me. I grew up with it and say it myself when I'm in my hometown where it's accepted and when speaking to someone significantly older and/or someone for whom there is some context for respect. A server in a restaurant or a customer service rep on the phone doesn't provide that context for me. I prefer "you".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And when someone says it to me, I never call them on it. I just wince inwardly. This thread has given me a chance to vent about it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        latindancer Jul 23, 2012 10:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <It's the tone that frequently comes with it that grates, and if you aren't female you likely haven't heard it used with that tone.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm a few years younger than Will Owen and I've yet, in all these years, heard 'that tone' you're talking about. What is it you're referring to? I've heard ma'am used along with the utmost respect from both males and females, from all walks of life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It never once occurred to me that someone was disrespecting me....quite the opposite. Very recently a teacher, a gentleman, in a very prolific area of LA, that has historically received attention for being highly crime ridden, had his class refer to me as Mrs. They continued, throughout the day, calling me ma'am. I was touched and honored by these little people.They were being taught such impeccable manners and felt they were respecting me with their manners and the words they used. They would never have understood someone correcting them and asking them not to use the word ma'am. I don't either.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 12:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've never had "that tone" either, but then I'm a product of the South, where all women are "ma'am".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I believe that Emily Post and Miss Manners and the tenets of proper English usage all dictate using "ma'am" to address a woman with whom one is not acquainted. (They also sometimes recommend "madame"....that one makes me wince, just because of the societal implications it has undeservedly taken on over the years.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For those who know I live in France....Madame bothers me when uttered by an anglophone...but I think nothing of the address in my daily life, because there are no alternatives, and addressing someone respectfully is as necessary as breathing here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            woodleyparkhound Jul 24, 2012 02:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The southern component is key to not hearing "that tone" nor finding it objectionable. It doesn't bother me nearly as much when it comes from someone obviously southern, but it still makes me feel ancient. "That tone" comes from people who pepper their conversation with it, using it every few seconds for no reason at all - especially customer service.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bacchus101 Jul 24, 2012 04:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly right!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Will Owen
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sharuf Jul 24, 2012 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks Will. Never heard it said better.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Snorkelvik Jul 24, 2012 12:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So well put. Just wanted to see this again:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Manners are supposed to be a lubricant, not an irritant, and it's dreadful manners to choose to be offended when they're employed. Lighten up."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              EarlyBird Aug 1, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Manners are supposed to be a lubricant, not an irritant, and it's dreadful manners to choose to be offended when they're employed. Lighten up."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like the cut of your jib, young man.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: woodleyparkhound
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          causeimhungry Jul 27, 2012 06:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree. I don't see any reason for any form of address. What's worse than Miss or Ma'am is definitely Dear and Hon - now those bother the heck out of me!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: causeimhungry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bill Hunt Jul 27, 2012 06:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, it could be "hey you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              MGZ Jul 28, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              or, "Bitch".

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Jul 28, 2012 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You make "bitch" sound like a bad thing instead of the badge of honor it is. ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  MGZ Jul 28, 2012 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You're right, some folks earn it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Jul 28, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    :-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Other than applying to my girl-dogs, I am not sure that I am following along.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe a "gender thing?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bill Hunt Jul 30, 2012 08:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Luckily (at least I think so), that has never been any form of salutation used toward me. Somehow, I feel that I would be horribly offended, should that term be used. Same, if applied to my young, and very lovely "trophy wife."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Bill Hunt
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PenskeFan Jul 31, 2012 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Hey Lady" - $ to Jerry Lewis

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mommystar
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Liz K Jul 20, 2012 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Completely agree!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mommystar
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Querencia Jul 23, 2012 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree. "Young Lady" is disrespectful for a woman past forty because it's saying the opposite of what the speaker sees in front of him and tips us off that what he is really thinking is "Old Lady". But even less do I appreciate being called "Mama" which seems to be the going thing for Caribbean and African servers to call a woman along in years. What ever happened to "Ma'am"?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    coll Jul 24, 2012 04:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That Mama thing is hard to get used to, I've had chefs in a professional setting call me Mama constantly and I get weirded out. I think they're hitting on me or something. But don't think they are really. Guess it's just a cultural thing, but that IS my worst way to be addressed at this point. Until I figure out the real implications.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      tcamp Jul 24, 2012 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. I'm 51 and if someone called me "young lady," I'd laugh at the obvious ridiculousness of the statement. Other than that, I'm not terribly sensitive about how I'm addressed. I'm not sure any honorific is needed. What is wrong with "good evening, welcome to XYZ....can I get you something to drink as you peruse the menu?"

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mommystar
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isolda Jul 25, 2012 11:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think "young lady" and "miss" are incredibly patronizing. Clearly, I am middle-aged. I don't need to have my ego stroked by someone pretending I look younger than I do. There are worse things than years, people!.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If "Ma'am" is good enough for the queen of England, it's good enough for me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bill Hunt Jul 25, 2012 07:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <<If "Ma'am" is good enough for the queen of England, it's good enough for me.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am glad to hear that, as I use "ma'am" most often, whether the "young lady" IS younger, or older than I am. Just a habit of mine, with no offense intended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. MGZ Jul 20, 2012 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Way I see it, if a person introduces themselves and tells me there name. They intend for me to use it. I also think that it's appropriate to tell them mine and thereby invite them to do the same. I will also introduce my wife in such a situation. I see no reason that the same sort of personal etiquette should not apply in a restaurant situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the other hand, I refer to anyone I don't know by name as "Sir" or "Ma'am" until I am told their name. This applies to servers who do not introduce themselves as well as pretty much anyone I come into contact with in a commercial setting. Respect should always be reciprocated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Edit - Since the OP brought it up, I'm in my early 40s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kengk Jul 20, 2012 05:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm also a middle aged man. Sir, works for me. Don't prefer familiar waiters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DGresh Jul 20, 2012 05:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          guess i'm old fashioned enough to think that "sir" and "ma'am" are just fine. Nothing else though ("buddy"? That's what I call my teen-aged son. And our cat.)

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