In the US, well the northern US anyways, if a woman over the age of 30 goes to a sales counter, she is likely to be asked
"Can I help you ma'am?"Now if you are over 30 and female like me you might also cringe slightly when you hear this. I find nothing pleasant sounding in the word ma'am. If you lip read an American saying ma'am you will notice a fleeting grimace in the word ma'am as if the person were in pain. I like nothing about this word.
Now in Australia, if a woman of any age goes to a sales counter, she is likely to be asked.
"What can I do for ya luv?"It doesn't matter if the sales person, bar tender, butcher etc is male or female, young or old, familiar or stranger, they will still call you 'luv'. luv luv luv Doesn't that sound wonderful!
A few months ago I had the opportunity to work the plant stall at the primary school fundraiser festival. Working the plant stall seemed like a helpful thing to do and a good idea at the time but it turns out that I could answer absolutely none of the customers' questions about the plants. I couldn't tell a Ginger plant from a Bromeliad (ok, well I could tell that one but you get the idea). I did my best. One part of working the stall stood out in my mind. One of the customers called me 'luv' as we were negotiating how to pack her plants into the boxes. Ah ha! Luv goes both ways!
I haven't yet been able to call strangers 'luv' here in Australia. I say "No worries" instead of "You're welcome". I can greet folks with a passable "G'day". After months of blundering I now have emphasis on the correct syllable in "Good on ya!". I can stumble through "How are ya going?" with only a slight pause before 'going'. I even occasionally declare that "She'll be right!". But calling strangers 'luv' is a bit harder.
I will work on this though because we all could use more "luv" in our lives.