8 Dec 2009

When did I become a Ma’am?

Pret A Manger caffe latte, England, Britain, UKI was in Prêt a Manger today, which I am most days, as I buy my morning latté from them. Prêt make the best lattés of all the chain stores in London. I'll go to Starbucks at a pinch (and load it up with vanilla or caramel), Costa as a last resort and Cafe Nero ONLY if the baristas are Mediterranean. English Cafe Nero baristas evidently all drink Nescafé at 40 degrees Celsius and wouldn't know a good latte if it imploded in front of them. The best coffee I’ve found in London (so far) is made by the lovely ladies at MUGI in Ealing Common. Polish construction workers drink it at 7.30am with nothing but cigarettes, so you know it’s good. Should you find yourself on the Ealing Common High Street, I recommend a detour, for the coffee and the hilarious music videos on Russian cable television.

I am a caffeine junkie and used to drink five or six cups a day. However, in a begrudging concession to my health, I only have one coffee a day now, as it made my heart beat irregular when I was a stage manager working 80 hour weeks in my 20s. So my one cup a day is significant and not to be treated lightly. I've tried to support my local small businesses and have gone to all the independent coffee shops in the five blocks around my office (mostly run by aging Italian men who employ contemptuous eastern European girls) and they all make terrible coffee. I mean the kind of terrible that makes you wish you'd ordered Maxwell House instead. I suspect they're all using Maxwell House to make coffee for their English customers, assuming they won't know the difference and keeping the really good, fresh, medium-roasted Italian good stuff for themselves. Bastards.

Anyway, when I was ordering my latté from the friendly folks at Prêt today, I realised that one of them had called me 'Ma'am' when she gave me my coffee. Ma'am. As in 'Madam'. Mrs. M'dme. Missus. M'lady. Not Miss. Or even Ms.

I realised that people had been calling me Ma'am for quite some time. In restaurants, bars, on the phone (where I tend to get 'Mrs' in front of my surname too) and certainly in the mail. And it made me wonder, when did I become a Ma'am? When did it become obvious that I was no longer a Miss? That I was now 'of a certain age' that commanded this level of respect from customer service types?

Is it my expanding waistline that lends me a matronly air? My lacklustre work attire (who can be bothered making an effort for pie charts?) or sensible walking-through-the-park trainers? I refuse to believe it’s crows feet, I have too much natural collagen (mostly thanks to 20 years of chips and chocolate), so it’s got to be my attitude. Evidently I have thrown off the exuberance and naivety of my youth and present myself (to customer service folks at least) an imposing worldly figure impressive enough to inspire in them the use of a befitting title. Or at least fear that I’ll get more annoyed with them if they call me ‘Miss’.

They might have a point.

1 comment:

Phillip said...

LOL! Great post! I suppose it's small comfort that no one calls me Mrs...seeing as I'm a bloke an' all.