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The other day, I found 15 extra minutes in the morning and used it to blow dry my hair and dab on some concealer and gloss. I also managed to squeeze into a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans. So I was feeling F-I-N-E fine when I strode into my coffee place, only to have my self-image shattered moments later by a barista’s thoughtlessly cruel question.

“Would you like anything else, ma’am?” she asked.

Just hearing myself referred to as a “ma’am” deflated me like sad balloon. I instantly went from hot mama to frumpy old hag.

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Now, I realize that as a married woman, I technically am a ma’am. But that doesn’t make it OK with me. Maybe it’s that “ma’am” conjures images of grandmas complaining to customer service. Maybe it’s that “ma’am” always seems to be uttered with an annoyed tone of voice. Maybe it’s that no one ever addresses someone they think is sexy as “ma’am.”

It doesn’t matter that “Miss” passed me by about 10 years, one marriage and two kids ago. “Miss” is a young lady with a life full of possibilities. “Miss” is who I will always be in my heart. “Miss” will get you a big tip and a huge smile, people. (Seriously, I don’t know why more customer service departments don’t train people in the art of a little harmless flattery—it really does get you everywhere!)

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