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Saying yes sir and yes ma’am

Old 10-21-19, 10:56 PM
  #1  
Hondo Gravel
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Saying yes sir and yes ma’am

Last summer traveling through Northern California through the sticks! even by Texas standards. Stopped for gas and some coffee and said yes ma’am to the clerk. She looked at me like she seen a ghost! I thought I offended her and felt bad. She said we are not from around here. Then she glanced at my Texas license plate and just smiled. I guess here we so say yes sir and yes ma’am out of habit a good habit. No hate towards California I have traveled there several times and it was always epic.
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Old 10-22-19, 02:37 AM
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Was raised in Texas, and have also found that certain southern hospitality habit is a nice thing.

Good travels to you sir.
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Old 10-22-19, 03:24 AM
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I am not living in the USA. But if i was, i'd address my elders with sir and ma'm all the time. That is the right way to do it. I am over thirty now and i like it when young people show me respect. When i hear the right words, i really want to help them. But when i hear hipster s**t, i just want to get away from those as soon as i can. Being polite doesn't kill you. It could actually help you.
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Old 10-22-19, 03:51 AM
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Not being from USA, "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" sound really strange to me. I don't think of myself as a "ma'am" and don't particularly like being addressed that way. It makes me feel old.

Thankfully, where I've lived, that's just not done. We're polite without it ... and without making a person feel old.
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Old 10-22-19, 04:10 AM
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I view the use of "yes sir" etc to be demeaning /to the person who uses it/; and if you demand or require it's use, you're trying to assert your perception of authority or class hierarchy onto others.

My worldview incorporates and applies equality to everyone, and so the deferential use of "sir" doesn't apply to anyone. It's not disrespectful. It's more respectful to everyone, including yourself.

Culturally and historically, it is an interesting topic, the use and meaning of language over time.
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Old 10-22-19, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
I view the use of "yes sir" etc to be demeaning /to the person who uses it/; and if you demand or require it's use, you're trying to assert your perception of authority or class hierarchy onto others.

My worldview incorporates and applies equality to everyone, and so the deferential use of "sir" doesn't apply to anyone. It's not disrespectful. It's more respectful to everyone, including yourself.

Culturally and historically, it is an interesting topic, the use and meaning of language over time.
Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
+1. Legacy of the Antebellum South.
Odd opinions, indeed. Nobody is diminished by displaying courteous respect to others. Quite the opposite, I'd say.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:01 AM
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Full time CA resident here.

I just call every person appearing to be a man "sir" and treat them with exactly the same amount of respect whoever they are, cop, homeless person, judge, whoever. If they're a man, that is.

OTOH, California women these days tend to get offended at almost everything, and I can easily see using the word "Ma'am" ending in complete disaster, so I'm polite, but don't call them anything other than their job title or name.

Strange times we live in, but we adapt the best we can.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:03 AM
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I guess it just depends where you are at. The part of the world you are from.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:07 AM
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Not everyone does it here in Southeast Texas, but "yes sir, yes ma'am, please, thank you, and you're welcome" are all commonly in use.

Saying these things is used in business mostly, but also casually from one stranger to another.

It's not demeaning to use in the least. It does show you respect the individual you are speaking to, though.

It may be a southern USA thing, but it for sure is also a holdover from all the people in this country that have been in the military.

A lot of my family and friends were in the US military and every one of them came out with a whole lot of "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" coming out of their mouths.

I do like to mess with my ex-military boss by giving him a "siryessir", aka Sir Sandwich, from time to time. But just in private, not in public. He could stop my paychecks.

Last edited by FiftySix; 10-22-19 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:09 AM
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"No problem"
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Old 10-22-19, 08:11 AM
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^^^^ hate that phrase with a passion ^^^^
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Old 10-22-19, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
"No problem"
Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
^^^^ hate that phrase with a passion ^^^^
It's much better than, "Sounds good."
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Old 10-22-19, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
"No problem"
I've talked to my kids about that one to let them know that people of certain generations despise it.

One of those "you need to know your audience" type of situations and adapt your speech if you would think it necessary.

But "no problem" is everywhere with younger generations and unlikely to change, I'd say.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
I've talked to my kids about that one to let them know that people of certain generations despise it.

One of those "you need to know your audience" type of situations and adapt your speech if you would think it necessary.

But "no problem" is everywhere with younger generations and unlikely to change, I'd say.
No Problem
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Old 10-22-19, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
No Problem
Damn whippersnapper!
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Old 10-22-19, 08:18 AM
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I am 100% Californian, and I will refer to anyone at any time, as appropriate, as sir or ma'am. When the faceless voice through the drive-thru speaker as asks if that completes my order, without thinking I will respond, "yessir" or "yes ma'am."

Once upon a time, sir and ma'am were indicators of respect-- it's not about age. Post #7 pretty much nails it,

Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
Nobody is diminished by displaying courteous respect to others.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:29 AM
  #17  
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BTW, "no problemo" is used a lot here. It's Spanglish for "no hay problema". Not sure if the older Hispanics hate it or like it.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:36 AM
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Some of the ma'am and sir usage comes from military (active, retired, vets) too...especially marines. It is engrained in boot camp.

Some folks are going to read into even the most benign comments or actions...like holding the door for someone.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by skijor View Post
Some of the ma'am and sir usage comes from military (active, retired, vets) too...especially marines. It is engrained in boot camp.

Some folks are going to read into even the most benign comments or actions...like holding the door for someone.
I held the door open for someone once, a woman who was in front of me, she was carrying a ton of file folders and a briefcase etc. The jerk in front of her dropped the door on her, and I dashed around her to catch it. She was not impressed with the guy in front of her, and remarked about this quite angrily as I agree, rolled my eyes, and held the door.

It was when entering the courthouse in front of my wife's employment tribunal.

The jerk was my wife's former employer's solicitor (lawyer).

The woman (for whom I held the door) was one of the judges on the panel.

We won our case. (We would've anyway, they had no case and no defense; we documented everything.)

It's nice to be nice; and actions speak louder than words.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by skijor View Post
Some of the ma'am and sir usage comes from military (active, retired, vets) too...especially marines. It is engrained in boot camp.

Some folks are going to read into even the most benign comments or actions...like holding the door for someone.
I guess when that happens, the polite thing to do would be to apologize for 1.) Being a man, and 2.) Existing at all.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
It's nice to be nice; and actions speak louder than words.
Amen, brother.
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Old 10-22-19, 09:12 AM
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I was raised to treat everyone with respect, and I say "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" or "no sir" and "no ma'am" to everyone. Including small children and teenagers. Quite the opposite of those who feel that it is uncalled for egalitarian reasons, the way I use it is to show respect to everyone and to acknowledge that I do not consider myself SUPERIOR to anyone - of any age.
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Old 10-22-19, 09:36 AM
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Dude.
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Old 10-22-19, 10:00 AM
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It means you think someone is old.
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Old 10-22-19, 10:16 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
It means you think someone is old.
I use it on young people all the time. Even someone handing me food through a fast food drive through window. I use a casual tone with a smile, though. I save the formal tone for something like speaking to police, a judge, etc.

Here it simply means you are showing respect to the person you are speaking to. Very useful if you don't know a person's name and you need to strike up a conversation. Usually gets a better response than referring to someone as "hey you".

BTW, it crosses racial, ethnic, or income differences nicely too. Nothing gets a positive response back to me better than starting a conversation with a "sir" or "ma'am" mixed in. With a smile and informal tone, of course.

Last edited by FiftySix; 10-22-19 at 10:25 AM. Reason: detail
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