Dear Young Handsome Server Boy,
I dine out alone often. I’m usually dressed nicely for work, so I feel pretty good about how I look. I know you can’t be much older than 23 or so, college age or just graduated. I’m 45, and the lights in restaurants are usually flattering; dim lights that could easily help me pass for 37, conservatively. If you haven’t had your eyes checked, Young Man, you might even guess that I was 35. This means I definitely do not look old enough to be your mother.
I’m happy to leave you a generous tip if you flash me your pearly whites and make eye contact with me when you bring me my lunch. And there’s nothing wrong with a little harmless flirtation in the process.
But, so help me God, if you do not stop ruining the mood and calling me “Ma’am”, I’m going to throw my damn food back at you, and possibly pour my hot tea over your head.
Maybe you were absent during waiter training when they gave this lesson, so here’s the part you missed: There’s no woman under 80 – no, there’s possibly no woman alive now – who actually wants to be called ma’am.
And I’ll bet that your mother isn’t ready to be called “ma’am”, either. I”ll give you this helpful hint: if your customer doesn’t look old enough to be your grandmother – great-grandmother, to play it safe – I’d stick with Miss or Ms. when addressing women.
Unless, Young Man, you want me to start calling you Sonny.