Ma'am is a funny word. Is it even a real word? Perhaps just a title we call people? I'm not quite sure, even.
Regardless, people seem to be really passionate about this "word." Either they love it, teach their children to use it and view its use as proper manners, or they hate it. Some think it makes them sound old, and are offended by a stranger using it, as it means they're "old" or "matronly."
I wasn't raised to use "ma'am." But I have to say, I've grown to like it. In a world where manners are waning, proper grammar is reduced to what can fit in 140 character tweets and we become more and more isolated with the obsession of our handheld media devices, I think looking someone in the eye and saying, "Yes ma'am, thank you!" is a treat. Yes, a treat.
The person who uses it isn't saying you're old. And why would that be bad, anyway? What's wrong with being considered matronly? Being a mother is an honor not every woman gets to experience. I can't fathom why someone would take offense to a stranger giving you a nod of respect. How often does that happen anymore?!
Whether or not you use "ma'am" to address a woman, can we all just agree that treating people with respect is a good thing? That actually talking to them, not via a text, tweet or email, but looking them in the eye and addressing them personally, is a good thing? That manners are a good thing?
I'm all for the implementation of old fashioned manners. If you see me out and about, feel free to call me ma'am! I'm a wife and mother. I earned that title.