I went to the store the other day, and this guy who was probably my age or older tried to go around me and said, "Excuse me, Miss." I smiled and moved to let him by me. I looked at the women behind the registers, and this is the conversation that took place.
Me (smiling real big): Well, that made me feel good.
Them: What did?
Me: He just said, "Excuse me, Miss." Not excuse me, Ma'am.
Me: That guy who just asked you that question. You know, the one who just walked away?
Them: Yes, Ma'am.
I laughed and looked at them waiting for them to catch what they had just said. They didn't get it.
Me: He just made me feel good by calling me Miss and then you go and call me Ma'am again.
They finally caught on and both of them laughed. Of course, we talked about how much southerners are raised to say Ma'am and Sir from the time they are little so it's just second nature. The "Miss" just made me feel so much younger. And they, of course, thanked me with an added "Ma'am" as I was leaving. *sigh* Wait, what? Okay, now they are just messing with me, right?
It took me a long time to get used to the Ma'am and Sir thing down here, being raised by two Yankees. Before moving here, Sir and Ma'am were things I only heard in reference to officers in the military. I know it's a respect thing, but it makes me feel old when it's aimed at me. One of my sisters just truly HATES the whole thing. But you have to love how (for the most part) they are about manners in the south. Like Miranda Lambert says, we can pretty much compliment you and cut you down by saying, "Bless your heart!"
I will say I absolutely love that most men down here are gentlemen and will give up a seat and open a door for any woman, no matter her shape, size, ethnic background, or class. It's refreshing to know chivalry isn't dead. The south gets a lot of knocks, but not having manners is NOT usually one of them.
Hmmmmm, Rhett Butler. A scoundrel, but still a gentleman!