Southern Manners

Yesterday, Little Rock came down with a case of freezing rain and sleet – like the kind that closes schools and sends even this native Iowan back to the shelter of her hotel room.  I finally made it out of the hotel and down the street for some dinner.

“Hello ma’am.  What would you like this evening?”

Ma’am.  I know it’s a tradition down here in the South – the ma’ams and sirs.  I hear them in Texas too.  And I love it each and every time I hear it.

Some people say that the tradition is basically “fake it ’til you make it” – and empty formality.  And who knows, maybe there are some people who say it that way.  But I don’t hear it as empty…

When someone calls me ma’am, I feel respected.  I feel noticed.  I feel like someone has taken the time to add the formality…for me.  And I find that I always want to be just as respectful and friendly back.

I have smiled, said thank you, engaged in friendly chit-chat, complimented, and referred to people by their well-earned titles since I moved to Texas – and even more since I arrived in Little Rock.  I carry on conversations long enough to actually learn (and remember!) the names of even the drive-thru window attendant at the fast food restaurants I’ve frequented on my recent road trips.

Who knew the power of one little word…or two words and an apostrophe 😉


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