Wednesday, April 20

Yes Ma’am

Having done a lot of relocating throughout my life, I really do try to be respectful of region preferences, especially now that I work with the public. In many ways I’m lucky because people don’t easily identify where I’m from, so I avoid they negative stereotypes some people associate with New Yorkers. They know I’m “not from around here; but living in Austin, where so few people are originally from the area, this isn’t a problem.

Occasionally, I wait on “real” Texans, you know the men that walk in with a cowboy hat and have that whole social hierarchy thing going, and frankly I just don’t know what to do. The men are unquestionably in charge, but they won’t look you in the eye. Nobody is formal or worries about all the other dining and etiquette rules that other I’m use to people following. I mean would it really kill you to take your hat off? However, there is this incredible emphasis on respect. They’re always very respectful of my time, actually exceedingly considerate and they always call me ma’am. Actually, they use ma’am after almost every sentence.

Last night, I had a family of “real” Texans and it really left me wondering about these unwritten rules. The mother was trying to teach her children these manners and I didn’t want to violate their rules, at the same time I don’t really know them. I quizzed one of my coworkers who is has lived here her whole life on this phenomenon, and it seems that I’ve been doing okay. Regional differences are funny and I wonder how much I have missed of the local etiquette. They’re all just so polite down here.

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