When I was young–elementary school–my parents started making me say yes ma’am and yes sir. I didn’t want to, but I got so tired of them correcting me that I decided I would choose to say it.
As I have mentioned before, I like being in charge of my own business. One way you can stay in charge of your own business before you’re off on you’re own is by following the rules…
So I may have solved part of the puzzle.
Oh, I like that very much. I’ve always wondered at my own weird mix of anti-authoritarianism and extreme rule-following. I so dearly hate to be punished, and I suppose that’s b/c punishment means lack of control. (Well, and it means that I am hideously imperfect, DAMMIT.) So yes, agreed, following rules is, in its own way, a method of protecting oneself from losing control. Thanks for that!
On the subject of sir and ma’am, my ultra-conservative father, who demonstrates the most interesting mix of anti-authoritarianism and rule-following I’ve yet witnessed, specifically taught his children–and this is in a very conservative part of Virginia, where such niceties are grimly enforced–NOT to say sir or ma’am, unless we absolutely couldn’t avoid it w/out getting punished in some way that actually mattered, like getting suspended from school. He told us straight up that he considered the practice idiotic, a demand from insecure adults who required some false show of respect b/c they weren’t comfortable earning that respect by demonstrating wisdom and genuine authority. (Well, he didn’t use anything like those words, but that was the gist.) So my brother wound up having to say it a lot b/c he was a jackass and so always found himself being lectured by a teacher who would demand a response and then the inevitable, “Yes you will, WHAT?” “Yes I will, SIR.” I don’t know what my sister’s record was like, but I am pleased to say that I never once said ma’am or sir in my entire 12 years of school, b/c I never got in trouble in the first place. There are always ways around it, mostly just to end what you’re saying with, “Thank you so much” and a huge smile, or using the teacher’s name, Mr. Blah or Mrs. Yada. I was an expert in avoiding honorifics, and that sweetly feeds the almost-rebel in me. Thanks, Dad!
Your SIR and MA’AM story is fascinating. And I’m with your father but not quite so adamant about it. We never made our kids say it.
Some rules really are so annoying, aren’t they? I have to tell you, I almost never call my doctors “Dr. So and So,” especially if they’re about the same age as me. I am a “first name” kinda gal. We’re all the same here, you know?
yes we are
Ah yes… solving the puzzle of ‘me’?! Getting warmer… (lol)