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Æthelthryth the Texan

North/south behaviors. Is this true?

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I do the door thing here in NYC but the chatting totally freaks me out. Esp when they're commenting on my groceries "that yogurt is SO good" like I need confidence in my dairy choices. I don't do small talk though...so when I do go to (say) Indiana I mostly hide in the car or appear rude.

 

I am not fond of small talk in the grocery store but I see it as a person either bored and trying to pass the time, or lonely and seeking some connection.  It wouldn't bother me to have someone make a positive comment on something in my cart.  I may have done so as well without thinking, though I tend not to start conversations.  Now if someone made a negative comment about something, that would be different.  Or if the person wants to complain about the slow line, I wouldn't engage.  But friendly chatting?  Not a problem for me.

 

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People are generally polite everywhere, but it doesn't always culturally look the same.

 

I live in the north. People hold doors for you, they smile, they say please & thank you and other niceties. I've chatted with wait staff, with cashiers, with other customers. It isn't another planet.

 

It seems like maybe these things here are much more dictated by personality than expectation. Which I think is a good thing.

 

OP, I think your impression of the north is a bit off.

 

No, we don't generally address people with ma'am or sir although you might hear it occasionally.

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I've lived in every region in general US except the Midwest and I've found general politeness everywhere, as in holding doors and general kindness. Living in the south was definitely a culture shock for me, originally from Northern California, but I did not find people there to be any more polite than anywhere else. I do not care for sir/ma'am, I've only ever used it in the military as needed. I'm not chit-chatty by nature but I will occasionally, I just prefer to go about my business without interacting with every random person I come across.

 

The state I live in now is probably the least polite I've lived in, people are very hurried, and the driving is hands down the worst I've ever encountered, again due to being hurried, I imagine.

 

I think one of the biggest cultural differences is the idea of respect, in the south sir/ma'am are respectful, deferring to elders is respectful, even if you don't know them. I do not feel the need to be respected by every random person, general politeness is enough for me. I don't really understand why a person would respect or show respect to a person they don't know, maybe it's confusing the definitions between politeness/kindness and respect.

Edited by SemiSweet
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I am not fond of small talk in the grocery store but I see it as a person either bored and trying to pass the time, or lonely and seeking some connection.  It wouldn't bother me to have someone make a positive comment on something in my cart.  I may have done so as well without thinking, though I tend not to start conversations.  Now if someone made a negative comment about something, that would be different.  Or if the person wants to complain about the slow line, I wouldn't engage.  But friendly chatting?  Not a problem for me.

 

 

I always tell people NOT to follow me in line.  Inevitably, there will be an issue to hold up the line.  Either the cash register will break down, an item will ring up wrong and a manager will need to come over, the cashier will need to go on break and close out the register for a new cashier, or they will need to find someone to come over and help with something.

I know it isn't the cashier's fault and I don't make comments about that, but I swear something will go wrong in MY line! haha

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I'm in Canada, but my area is considered to be a friendly/chatty one, and there are other areas where that is much less so, and you are less likey to have people stop and help you out.  I think that sort of thing can easily be regional.

 

As far as forms of addrees, I think that it is a big mistake to think differences in that are about people being either rude or stick-up-the-bums.  To me it is just a natural regional difference, like those crazy people who say "soda" or "chesterfield." 

 

It only is an issue at all if people are outside their own area and there is a misunderstanding, but I think most people understand that when someone comes from away, the implications are ot the same as they were locally.  If someone here uses "sir" it might well sound odd or even sarcastic - but if they were clearly from the southern US or even just some undefined other place, most people would assume it was just a cultural difference.

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I live in the rural Midwest. Courtesy, speaking with others, general politeness are pretty common. Ma'am and sir are sort of used when getting the attention of someone you don't know but I find Mrs and Mr pretty common among my kids' friend. No one is coming in shouting "Yo, Lisa." 🙄

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I dislike formality in casual life (in the workplace, formal address with academic title is appropriate)

But most importantly, to me this is something you say to OLD people (I don't feel old enough to be called Ma'am. It conjures up an image of a little old lady or elderly matron, not of a modern professional woman)

or if you want to express a power differential.

My DS uses Sir and Ma'am to address his senseis and higher ranking adult judokas, and police officers.

 

To me, this for of address is not something you use among equals.

 

Normally I don't think of Florida as the south, but we definitely use Sir/Ma'am...or at least I do. Maybe it's just me. But I also call my 3 year old Sir, and my 6 yr old Ma'am, so not a term that implies age or power differential. Now, we aren't quite deep south enough to make every "yes" and "no" have an honorific with it, but often they do. And I generally say "thank you, ma'am/sir" to the grocery check out person, bug guy, etc etc. 

 

I'm always surprised when people correlate it to age, because honestly in the south even toddlers are referred to as ma'am and sir. 

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As for opening doors, I have people kind enough to open doors for me from Arizona to Washington state. Holding open a door so it doesn't hit the person behind you would be a common courtesy though.

 

 

I thought she was referring to holding it and letting someone go through in front of you. I'd say that happens about 50% of the time here. 

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This is my personal take, of course, but I find the overt politeness of the south almost passive agressive. Sure, they hold doors and say sir and ma'am, but god forbid that you forget. your entire family plus half gthe town will know of your faux pas by nightfall... Still, friendly is really friendly and they don't care a whit about family history, unlike all those folks I grew up with in Texas who judged us for the behavior of relatives we didn't even know we had.

 

I see this as more of a small-town thing than a specifically Southern thing, or of anywhere that has a large percentage of the local population that has been basically the same for generations. Definitely true of the small Southern town where I grew up, but not at all of the Southern city and its close large suburbs where I live now, and not really so much of the that same small town now that it's much larger.

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Politeness and holding doors at restaurants and in shops is fairly universal with some exceptions everywhere, but the ma'am usage isn't in my experience. I live in a state that some consider southern and some consider it sw. I don't get called ma'am very often, but when I do, it always makes me feel like l must look tired or old that day. To me, ma'am is used to address older women. I guess I am just not ready to be seen that way yet. My husband uses sir a lot especially with men older than him and those in uniform, but I thought that was a result of his military background.

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These things are definitely regional. The first time I visited California from England to visit my brother and sister in law, one night we went out for dinner. The server came and started a conversation with us. I was so confused by the extreme familiarity with which they chitchatted that I had to ask my brother and sister in law if they knew her, to which they replied they had never met her before! They were, that's just how it is here!

 

We love chatting with waiters/waitresses when we travel.  Since we try to pick local places rather than chains and prefer traveling on back roads to interstates, we often are "pegged" as not-local very quickly.  We have several awesome memories.  Even in cities though, we'll often be chatty - it's the way we (usually) are - even in elevators.  Most folks chat back with us.

 

I'm in Canada, but my area is considered to be a friendly/chatty one, and there are other areas where that is much less so, and you are less likey to have people stop and help you out.  I think that sort of thing can easily be regional.

 

I've never come across a place in Canada that hasn't been friendly/chatty.  Even when we were spending the month in the Bahamas (where I think half of Canada spends their winters), we got to know many of our "neighbors" were Canadians because they were as chatty as we were.  We felt right at home.  They thought it was odd that we were American... as did many of the local Bahamians.

 

For those of us who are chatty and social by nature... we can feel better knowing that such social interactions are one of the positives among all Blue Zone regions (areas where far more people live to be 100 than others).  It's one of the major common denominators.   :coolgleamA:

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Very much true. I grew up in Nebraska, then spent ten years in a country area of FL. Little ones are raised saying yes ma'am/sir. The kids I taught at church called everyone Miss/Mister First Name. Here in the Midwest, that isn't done. It isn't because there is a lack of respect...its just not the way people speak.

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My dad is a recovering Southerner so I grew up with the "ma'am" thing. My mother hated it when he would call her that. I don't like it, to my ears it sounds snarky and dismissive, but if it's clear the offender is a southerner I'll try not to be miffed. Otherwise, it just sounds old fashioned and misplaced.

 

Holding doors happens everywhere IME. I've lived all over the country (except the south) and not encountered it more or less in any one region.

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It sounds odd to me that "ma'am/sir" is considered very formal to people, since it isn't here. As to children addressing adults, our pattern growing up was to refer to adults one knew pretty well, say fellow church members/neighbors/parents of friends/Scout leaders, but to whom one wasn't related as "Ms. firstname" (more accurately "Miz" since it had nothing to do with marital status, really) or "Mr. firstname." Thinking of it, we may also have used this term sometimes with adult more distant relations as well. It's kind of an intermediate step between using "Mrs. or Mr. lastname" (formal) and calling them by their first name only (which is for peers). 

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People aren't being rude by not chit chatting.

 

I live in the South now (NC) and I am amazed that everyone needs to talk to me all the time.  I went back West to visit and I walked into stores and wasn't followed around, wasn't talked to, and to be honest, I found it very refreshing.   I don't like strangers asking me personal questions.  I never have.

 

They ARE NOT being RUDE!  They are just not into your person space.

 

 

:iagree:

 

 

I live in Texas, but we are from Illinois.

 

I've had this argument with friends several times.  Where we're from, the "ma'am/sir" thing kinda makes us cringe.  People use it as a sarcastic-type insult sometimes...also it has a customer service-type feel to it.  Like if the lady at the cash register doesn't like you, she's going to call you "ma'am"!   :D   

 

One of my friends kept yelling at her kids to call me "ma'am" during a playdate once and honestly, it was like nails on a chalkboard.  I don't like being called "ma'am" at all.  It really makes me uncomfortable.  I even told her it was ok, he didn't have to call me that, and she still persisted to yell at the kid about it.  Ugh.  Go play with the Legos, Dude.

 

And the personal space thing.  Yeah, a lot of people from the Midwest are more reserved.  When I'm not going up to random strangers talking to them, I am subconsciously respecting their personal space.  I feel like just because you are there doesn't mean that I have to bother you or have you entertain me.  Does that make sense?  (probably not  :tongue_smilie:  )

Edited by Evanthe
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I don't think being more reserved/less chatty, as an individual or group, is rude.  But I do think that looking upon interactions with other people, even you are not that way inclined or it is just inconvenient, as a burden or something you don't want to be bothered with or should not have to do, can very often be entering into a kind of disrespectful or unkind or just rude attitude to people in a general way.  A kind of view of other people as an inconvenience/bother to be put up with.

 

I personally am not a great chatter, I never initiate it, and I am really shy with some social anxiety.  Chatting with strangers makes me feel anxious, totally apart from times when it is a pain because I am in a hurry or tired or distracted.  However, when people try and chat with me, I do my best to respond in a positive way.  To me this is a matter of respecting people as people - I think I would be pretty hypocritical if I felt that I need to respect persons through social programs, giving money to charity, or spending time volunteering, was something I should do with good grace, but I'm not willing to take the time to exchange pleasantries in the most basic of human interactions with those that I meet.

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I grew up in northern Ohio, and people definitely held open doors for each other. It's done out here in the west, too, but not by everyone.

 

I think that it's possible that the feminist hostility towards the opening of doors had a greater influence in the northeast, and hardly at all in the south.

 

I find the retail clerks out here calling me "miss" ridiculous since I'm a gray-haired 54-year-old. 

 

Anyhow, I just realized that I haven't had my morning coffee yet; what was I thinking?.............

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Another Canadian chiming in. I'd never experienced the habitual "ma'am" and "sir" until I had a friend from North Carolina who was living here. She was grooming her dc for going back south, so was trying to teach them to say ma'am and sir. It's not used here unless in a formal work or martial arts setting, or perhaps getting someone's attention. 

 

I got into the habit of using ma'am, sir and bowing at the martial arts entrance when I was training 3 - 4 times a week. It became so ingrained that I'd catch myself bowing when going into my dd's Girl Guides activities held in a gym. I could certainly see how some behaviours become habit that people don't even think about. Hopefully they are the more polite behaviours, but some cultures' habits can certainly feel less comfortable. I was watching an outdoor show in Vegas with a group of Asian tourists, and their habit happened to be standing very close to the person next to them for no apparent reason at all. It felt weird to me, but just their way of doing things. I understand standing close together in a crowded space, like an elevator or public transport, but not outdoors where there is a lot of space available.

Edited by wintermom

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

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I thought she was referring to holding it and letting someone go through in front of you. I'd say that happens about 50% of the time here.

Yes- that's exactly what I was referring to. I don't find it exclusive to men here to do that here either.

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

 

Traveling through would be one thing -- "Oh, look, I'm experiencing a different culture!" -- but living with it for a few years might be another.

 

We've lived in various areas of the midwest, northeast, and upper east coast.  People vary quite a bit in their door-holding habits, they're chattiness habits, and modes of address.  It can be jarring to move to a new region, and takes a bit to get into the groove of the new "normal".  When we moved from New Hampshire to southern Indiana I thought the people in s. Indiana were so saccharin-sweet-fake at first.   It probably didn't help that my cousin, living in the deeper south, commented that yeah, they'll be sweet to your face while stabbing you in the back, and that she preferred the directness of the northeast.

 

One of the local store clerks liked to call all women "Miss".  At the end of every. single. sentence (and he talked A LOT, so it was a lot of sentences).  I sort of wanted to smack him, it was such an annoying affectation.  I think "ma'am" might've been better, since it doesn't have the let's-pretend-I-think-you're-young vibe to it.

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

 

 

To me, I find it weird to have things so vastly different within our own country.  When I travel overseas, I just expect differences and it doesn't bother me nearly as much. 

 

But I grew up as an American overseas, so I am very used to things being different in different areas of the world.

 

The US is so large.  I remember as a kid traveling from Chicago to Portland, OR and since the flight was relatively long for me as a kid, I didn't understand why my dad didn't need to change money at the airport before we got into the city.  I remember asking him about it and the people around us laughed at my question.

 

But to answer your question, no, I don't find it rude when traveling, in fact, I have to readjust my own actions to make sure not to offend others in their country.

Edited by DawnM
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Traveling through would be one thing -- "Oh, look, I'm experiencing a different culture!" -- but living with it for a few years might be another.

 

We've lived in various areas of the midwest, northeast, and upper east coast.  People vary quite a bit in their door-holding habits, they're chattiness habits, and modes of address.  It can be jarring to move to a new region, and takes a bit to get into the groove of the new "normal".  When we moved from New Hampshire to southern Indiana I thought the people in s. Indiana were so saccharin-sweet-fake at first.   It probably didn't help that my cousin, living in the deeper south, commented that yeah, they'll be sweet to your face while stabbing you in the back, and that she preferred the directness of the northeast.

 

One of the local store clerks liked to call all women "Miss".  At the end of every. single. sentence (and he talked A LOT, so it was a lot of sentences).  I sort of wanted to smack him, it was such an annoying affectation.  I think "ma'am" might've been better, since it doesn't have the let's-pretend-I-think-you're-young vibe to it.

 

Sure, and in your own language it can sound odd in a way it might not in another.

 

But - I think if I moved from where I live, to the South, I'd pretty quickly realize that the implications of being called miss are simply not the same as they would be in my hometown.  It might still sound odd to my ear, but that's about all.

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To me, I find it weird to have things so vastly different within your own country.  When i travel overseas, I just expect differences and it doesn't bother me nearly as much. 

 

But I grew up as an American overseas, so I am very used to things being different in different areas of the world.

 

The US is so large.  I remember as a kid traveling from Chicago to Portland, OR and since the flight was relatively long for me as a kid, I didn't understand why my dad didn't need to change money at the airport before we got into the city.  I remember asking him about it and the people around us laughed at my question.

 

But to answer your question, no, I don't find it rude when traveling, in fact, I have to readjust my own actions to make sure not to offend others in their country.

 

Well, this is similar to my thinking, even if I moved to another part of the country where people were more formal, I would tend to modify my own language and teach my kids to observe the local custom.

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I have only read the OP.

 

I will say this...I am from the south and I say sir and ma'am and it's ONLY on the internet that I have ever heard anything one way or the other about it. Except when I was little and only my grandparents actually required it....but that wasn't necessary, because it was just what everyone said, all the time, to ALL people, old and young (including kids) alike.

 

If someone thinks I am insulting them because I habitually say "yes ma'am," then OK. We aren't going to be best friends. That is true of 99.999% of people any way. So, practically speaking, it's NBD.

 

And, again, I have lived all over the USA and no one makes a big deal out of this in my real life. The internet goes ballistic about it, though.

 

ETA-- I'll also add that the NICEST, most friendly in public-- general out and about public-- I have found in all the places I have lived, is in Boston!!

Edited by OKBud
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Well, this is similar to my thinking, even if I moved to another part of the country where people were more formal, I would tend to modify my own language and teach my kids to observe the local custom.

 

 

We do, for the most part, but I still don't use Sir and Ma'am.  But there are so many people from all over that our city honestly isn't even very "Southern" anymore.  

 

But I am polite and try to be nice.  But I was nice on the West Coast too.  

 

There are still some things that irritate me.  Like, if you are traveling down a main road and cars are at the side road at stop signs and the main road car stops, stopping all the traffic behind him, to let several cars at the stop sign go.......to me, that is rude to the people behind you, but they do it all the time here, and it is a way to be "nice."   Drives me nuts.

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I'm always surprised when people correlate it to age, because honestly in the south even toddlers are referred to as ma'am and sir.

Not where my sister lives in Alabama. It is very much an age thing. Kids don't call other kids sir or ma'am but they would get correctly instantly if they didn't call an adult those titles. Even my sister who is almost 40 would be considered rude if she didn't use those titles to someone the next generation up.

 

I find it ridiculous not because there is anything wrong with those titles but because of the judgment against those who don't say it. I'm just a rude Yankee down there.

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

 

One of the things I love about traveling, both domestic and foreign, is getting to see/experience local culture.  It's why we take back roads and choose local places to eat if we can.  Camping helps too.

 

In my ideal world I'd have no need for a personal chef (from the cooking thread).  We'd be on the road 24/7 just seeing our planet and enjoying the experience.

 

One other thing I've noted from reading some of these threads... sometimes it's not the "area" causing a difference.  It can be the person.  We have kids at school who are born and raised here who have little idiosyncrasies with how they act or what they say - and it doesn't always come from parents either.  One has to be careful when generalizing from a single person, family, or incident.  It doesn't mean everyone else around there is the same way.

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Yes- that's exactly what I was referring to. I don't find it exclusive to men here to do that here either.

 

Midwest here.  It goes both ways with door holding, depending on the situation.  If we are almost getting to the door at the same time but I got there first, I would hold the door and let the other person go through first.  If it's an elderly or physically challenged person or someone with full hands, I will hold and wait for them to go through first.  If it's just another person like me and they are a bit behind me, I'll just make sure the door doesn't fall on their face after I go through.  :)  I think that's pretty much the norm here.

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Jerks live all over, of course.

 

I agree with Ktgrok that for me and my family it's not a respect or old/young thing. It's just how people talk.

 

It's exactly like my midwestern relatives raising their kids saying "Yes, thank you" or "no, thank you" to every question.

------------

 

This reminds me of the time some guy got SUPER mad at me for calling him "brother" in passing. He scowled and was like, "I'm not your brother." Very growly.........like I wasn't aware that we had different parents. The next person he turned to said "my man!" to him and he just politely shook his hand and smiled. The hail! I noted that he didn't hasten to point out that he was not that guy's personal valet, but whatever....

 

----------

 

Anyway, I tend to think that in general out in the physical world people usually understand that people are slightly different and it's no big deal if they speak a little differently and use slightly different vocabulary's....and EVEN if you can believe it that not everything out of everyone's mouth is a potentially shaded insult to be sniffed out and offended by.

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I enjoy the differences as I travel.  I find it quaint.  The only problem is if people misread my intentions when I don't do the local culturally expected things. That can get uncomfortable.

 

I've played host to people from other countries, and I learned some surprising ways we can offend them.  For example, handing over cash, food, or a gift with the left hand is super insulting.  Saying any word (including "hello" or "thanks") to the bus driver is horrifying.  If you are eating a sandwich and another person is present, you are supposed to offer them a bite.  I was a serial offender but luckily also a quick learner.  :)

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We do, for the most part, but I still don't use Sir and Ma'am.  But there are so many people from all over that our city honestly isn't even very "Southern" anymore.  

 

But I am polite and try to be nice.  But I was nice on the West Coast too.  

 

There are still some things that irritate me.  Like, if you are traveling down a main road and cars are at the side road at stop signs and the main road car stops, stopping all the traffic behind him, to let several cars at the stop sign go.......to me, that is rude to the people behind you, but they do it all the time here, and it is a way to be "nice."   Drives me nuts.

 

Yes, I would not purposfully pick something like that up, it would seem unnatural to me.  I might do it naturally over time I suppose.  I would assume people thought I was from away rather than rude.

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

 

I'm not sure if this is what you're asking...  I expect regional/cultural differences within the US because it is a huge country with a diverse population. I  might experience a bit of culture shock but I hope it would be temporary.  But I have moved around a little bit, and have traveled a fair bit around the country - though I am not nearly as well-traveled as many others here. 

 

I've come across lots of people who strongly believe their way is the right way.  Lots of "old time Philly" people are like that - Philly does it right; everyone else has it wrong.  But i's not just a Philadelphia thing.  I have a few Canadian friends who can be very annoying with their insistence that they know the Only Right Way regarding things like form of address, wedding customs, etc. -  and it happens to be the way they were raised.   It can be really frustrating at times when we have to work together on something (we go to church together and sometimes work on events and such).  

 

ETA:  Perhaps some of this is not a regional issue so much as an age issue - older people thinking they have all the answers. 

Edited by marbel
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Hey, at least we don't have to kiss each other all the time.  Now that would be hard to get used to.

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Hey, at least we don't have to kiss each other all the time.  Now that would be hard to get used to.

 

Oh gosh, then all the online parenting forums would have people telling us we can't teach our kids it's polite to faire la bise in case they lose their sense of bodily autonomy.

 

I don't think I could take that.

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We used to drive down to Nashville to visit hubby's kid sister the Sister (Mother House for her order, Dominicans, is in Nashville) and folks down there are so polite!!!!

Edited by JFSinIL

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I'm curious - do or would those who find it really jarring to be addressed, in your own country, with or without honorifics usual to you, feel the same way about it when the mode or formality of address is quite different travelling in other parts of the world?

 

I totally get finding it sounds odd to the ear, or reminding one of a different context, but I can't see thinking of it as an unfortunate cultural practice any more than I would find different forms of address in Mongolia unfortunate.

I don't think I would have a problem in other countries but I do find the sir/ma'am very grating. It is an unfortunate cultural practice and I teach my kids that they don't have to say it. Luckily, only one set of their grandparents care and correct them.

 

But, I want to add something. One of the reasons it bothers me so much is because what I was taught it means. I was raised that it was not a sign of respect but one of obedience. I said it one time as a child because of a family I had been spending time with. When we got in the car, my Mom told me that she never wanted to hear me say it again. When I asked her why, she told me that nobody owns us and we do not have to respond to them as if they are our masters. I've never forgotten that and sir/ma'am will never be some quaint little Southern thing to me.

Edited by MaeFlowers
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You know, I know this is different all over but my husband i in the military and he is very rarely compelled to say sir or ma'am there. What he has to do, is use his superior's full title. "Yes BM1" No, Chief." etc..

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Mom told me that she never wanted to hear me say it again. When I asked her why, she told me that nobody owns us and we do not have to respond to them as if they are our masters. I've never forgotten that and sir/ma'am will never be some quaint little Southern thing to me.

 

((()))

 

It sounds like there is deep pain there :(

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<snip>

 

ETA:  I would add here, though, that my dh is still ridiculed by the other engineers at work if he slips and says "Y'all", or even if he sounds too 'Southern'.  Thus, dh's conversion to "You guys" (which I personally dislike).  

 

Huh.  I hear "y'all" everywhere.  I've don't remember when I first started using it, but I'm pretty sure it was before I met my (southern) husband; to me it's not a southern thing at all anymore but simply a contraction and a very useful one at that!  The Philadelphia equivalent, of course, is "youse guys" but I think I hear that less than "y'all."   But then I live in the suburbs. 

 

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There are still some things that irritate me.  Like, if you are traveling down a main road and cars are at the side road at stop signs and the main road car stops, stopping all the traffic behind him, to let several cars at the stop sign go.......to me, that is rude to the people behind you, but they do it all the time here, and it is a way to be "nice."   Drives me nuts.

 

Have you actually had people stop flowing traffic on the main road to do this at just some spot out of the blue, rather than near a stoplight when folks are already stopped or in the middle of rush hour stop and go traffic when traffic is already basically stopped? I agree that would be odd.

 

The only time I see (or do) this is when the traffic on the main road is very heavy and has a stoplight or stop sign meaning I'm already stopped/stopping, so I don't pull up right behind the car in front or wait a few beats to pull up when traffic starts again, giving a little space for the person at the side road or parking lot/deck to get into the flow of traffic. Depending on the time of day and amount of traffic, there might not be a break in traffic for them otherwise for quite a while. Usually folks also only do it for one car at a time, similar to merging, expecting the person behind to take their turn to let the next car in if it is reasonable to do so or that the next person on the side road will wait for the next light change.

 

Now what does drive me nuts is when this courtesy is extended and the person in the side entrance pulls out blocking the closest lane because they want in the lane one over. This is taking advantage. Pull into the flow of traffic and move over later.

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Not where my sister lives in Alabama. It is very much an age thing. Kids don't call other kids sir or ma'am but they would get correctly instantly if they didn't call an adult those titles. Even my sister who is almost 40 would be considered rude if she didn't use those titles to someone the next generation up.

 

I find it ridiculous not because there is anything wrong with those titles but because of the judgment against those who don't say it. I'm just a rude Yankee down there.

 

In our area, kids don't call other kids that, but adults may use "sir/ma'am" when talking to children. I use it with people older and younger.

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Well if it helps you feel any better about the north, my husband has a new coworker who just moved from Houston, where she grew up, to the PNW. We saw her and her husband walking in our neighborhood last week and invited them up to our porch. We ended up chatting for several hours, and she said that she found people out here much, much friendlier than Houston and still wasn't used to how polite other drivers were.

 

 

I think that PNW drivers might be more indecisive than polite. A local insurance company even made a

that pokes fun at the phenomenon.  Edited by mellifera33
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I live in the northeast. He is not exaggerating. People are rude up here, especially near certain large cities. For example: once I was in a restaurant picking up takeout in southern NY. I had my hands completely full and struggled to get out the door. A bunch of guys were standing around waiting for their takeout and none of them opened the door for me. They saw me but made no effort to help. Also, striking up conversations with strangers isn't normal around here either. And on the road you are always dealing with rude drivers as well. I love going south where people are friendlier.

 

 

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I don't think I would have a problem in other countries but I do find the sir/ma'am very grating. It is an unfortunate cultural practice and I teach my kids that they don't have to say it. Luckily, only one set of their grandparents care and correct them.

 

But, I want to add something. One of the reasons it bothers me so much is because what I was taught it means. I was raised that it was not a sign of respect but one of obedience. I said it one time as a child because of a family I had been spending time with. When we got in the car, my Mom told me that she never wanted to hear me say it again. When I asked her why, she told me that nobody owns us and we do not have to respond to them as if they are our masters. I've never forgotten that and sir/ma'am will never be some quaint little Southern thing to me.

 

Wow, very different perspective and very different filters through which one hears it. It only bore/bears connotations of obedience for me in interactions with an adult in authority (parent, grandparent, teacher, etc), not in general conversation. I certainly don't view or intend to imply that my husband or the teen at the fast food restaurant or the bank clerk is in any sort of "master-slave" (since she used the term "owns") relationship with me. I have never viewed even interactions with authority figures to imply that sort of relationship.

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Ma'am is a Southern quirk. To me it puts people into 'ranks' / social labels in an uncomfortable way. Having said that I understand the intent and would react politely if someone used the term .

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