I'm not sure if has to do with being from the South, or how I was raised, or because when I was little my uncle would give my cousins a whoopin' anytime they dared address any adult without saying sir or ma'am. But I say "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" to most all women.
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by a local fast food establishment to order a dessert. A woman's voice came on the thing and I placed my order, which included me referring to her as "ma'am" a couple of times.
When I got up to the window, all I saw was this guy. He took my money and handed me my order. That's odd, I thought. (That it was a guy, not that he took my money and handed me my order.) But I know sometimes they'll have one person with the headset taking the order and another person just handing out the food--or at least that's how it is when I imagine the innerworkings of a fast food establishment--so I didn't think much more of it.
Then this past Thursday, we ordered from the same place for lunch and I went to pick it up. It was sort of a long order, so there were quite a few "yes ma'ams" and "no ma'ams." When I got to the window, the same guy was there. Except this time, he started chatting with me.
"It's finally warming up out there," he said.
My friends, he spoke with the voice of a woman. A real life high talker! Not a loud talker, a high talker. Just like the Seinfeld episode.
I wasn't able to look at him because I felt bad and also because it was taking everything I had not to laugh. But on the other hand, it was such a rare phenomenon that I was tempted to call someone just to let them hear.
He seemed like a nice guy, and this was the second time in a week that I had called him "ma'am." But what could I do? He sounded more like a woman than most women I know. They put him in the drive-thru where no one can see him. Plus we're basically in the sir and ma'am capital of the world here. It's entrapment!
I'm sure many "normal" people would let the story end there. But not me. Oh no. This wasn't over. For the next couple of days, it was all I could think about. I jovially shared with family and friends my story of meeting the high talker. I even pondered the possibility of a Bone Reality Tour, with the high talker and my Festivus Pole as the featured stops. Or, the only stops. But at the same time, I felt terrible about the whole ordeal.
After much consideration, I devised a plan. I would go back up there and no matter what, I would say "yes sir" and "no sir" when I ordered to make the high talker feel better. It seemed like the natural thing to do.
It was perfect. So inspired. Yet so simple. I imagined how good the high talker would feel to finally be called sir after hearing ma'am day after day after day. It made me proud that I was such a good person.
I carried out my plan yesterday. Of course by this time, I was sick of eating at the place--it's far from my favorite anyway--so I decided I'd just get a coke. What follows is the unedited version of the conversation that transpired shortly before 1:00 PM Central Time Saturday afternoon:
"Welcome to KFC, may I take your order?"
"Yes. Uh, yes sir." (I almost forgot, right off the bat!) "I'd like a medium Mountain Dew, please."
"One medium Mountain Dew. Is that all?"
"That'll be two-fifteen."
$2.15?!?! Suddenly coke has become more expensive than gasoline? Wow. Still, I figured it would be well worth it to right this wrong and bring this episode to a happy conclusion. I pulled up to the window and, um, well... it seems the high talker wasn't working.
Turns out there was but one flaw in my carefully designed plan. And that was it. So basically I paid two dollars and fifteen cents to call a 16-year-old kid "sir."
I'm sure many "normal" people would let the story end there...
"I won't make the same mistake by coming here again, cos I can't tell difference between the hers and hims. No, I can't tell the boys from the girls. And friends, it's really messing up my world..."