wobblerlorri (wobblerlorri) wrote in thequestionclub,
wobblerlorri
wobblerlorri
thequestionclub

Is this really a thing?

I posted at length about this in my journal, but I wanted to run this past the community, because I say it a LOT:

I do call-in tech support, and this past Monday I took a call. Now, I call everyone "sir" or "ma'am" because it's part of being polite, and it's how my mama taught me to show respect. Doing it is just Good Customer Service.

This customer took GREAT offense to being called "ma'am" -- she informed me her mother told her that ma'am comes from madam, and a madam is a hooker, so calling anyone "ma'am" is the same as calling them a hooker. I was speechless for a minute, explained I called all ladies "ma'am" because that was how MY mother raised ME, and it was just unconscious now.

I was about to apologize, but then she went off on a tirade about how rude it was that I called her that HORRIBLE name, that she had NO idea how I was still working in customer service while calling women that HORRIBLE name, and that she was going to make sure I was FIRED IMMEDIATELY for calling her that HORRIBLE name. So I had no interest in modifying my speech to please her any longer, and started pointedly calling her "ma'am". Each time made her scream even more.

She ended up demanding a supervisor; unfortunately for her, we have no supervisors available after 9 pm Mountain Time, and I told her that. She said she could believe it, what with me calling customers HOOKERS all night long! Then she hung up.

So I ask you, gentle TQC'ers, have you ever heard anything like this? The woman was in Oregon, USA if it makes any difference, and she was at least 65 to 70 years old. Is it an awful, horrible thing to call someone "ma'am" to convey respect? Why? What else should you call someone you don't know from Adam (or Eve) to convey pleasant, polite respect? How would it make you feel to be called "ma'am"?

ETA: Thanks y'all! I know the woman was off her rocker, I mean who gets upset being called a polite honorific? And like I said in my journal, even the Queen of England is called Ma'am! But it has become an inside joke at work, because naturally I had to tell people about it in our break room. Everyone was overwhelmingly amused.
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