Monday, November 7, 2011


Lord have mercy, I'm glad Mama doesn't read the New York Times! According to this article, manners are on decline in the South. The Times based the article on a recent court case in Atlanta...of all places.

One night in August, two men walked into a bar...The Tavern at Phipps Plaza. They sat at the bar, ordered drinks and pondered the menu. Two ladies stood behind them. A bartender asked if they would mind offering their seats to the ladies. Yes, they would mind! Very much. Angry words came next, then a federal court date and a claim for more than $3 million in damages. {The men happened to be black and the ladies were white} The men's lawyers argued that the Tavern at Phipps used a policy wrapped in chivalry as a cloak for discriminatory racial practices.

In the end, a jury decided in favor of the bar.

Lord have mercy, the men sued the bar. Have you ever? Where are their manners?

Sometimes I wonder if manners are alive in the South or are they Gone With the Wind?! Is it because of the outsiders? Is it because people are just too busy to care anymore?

My parents raised my brother to always give up his seat for a lady or an elderly person. He was raised to say "Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am" and "Yes Sir/No Sir". In the South, this is not considered being subservient--it's about showing respect!

Do you teach your child manners? Do you think it's important that children say "Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am" and "Please" and "Thank you"? Do you believe the two men were acting tacky...not to give up their seats at the bar for the ladies?


M. L. said...

Miss Janice, I saw that article in the NY Times last Wed and I instantly thought of you. Having been raised by two Southerns in Ohio (the North) I can assure you that the South is generally MUCH more manners oriented (and it's lovely).

This is why I love your blog, your Southern style spiced with lessons on manners is just what I need to read about in this harsh world.

Joanne Kennedy said...

I believe in manners. Please and thank you. But, here in CA you would be hard pressed to find a man (of any color) standing up and giving his seat to a woman. Perhaps if the woman was elderly he may but not if she was young (unless he wanted to try and get her number.)

We also do not say Yes Sir, no sir or things like that. To formal and not necessary here in CA.

I have a Girl Scout Troop that I try to teach manners to. Table manners, being nice and helping others.

Lisa Bolling said...

Miss Janice, what a terrible thought . . . that manners are declining in the South. I was born in the South, live in the South and will remain in the South until the Good Lord comes for me. I was taught to always use good manners. There is never an excuse for poor (or lack of) manners. I have a ten year old son and I believe it is very important that he learn good manners now.
I suppose we will just have to be a good example of good Southern manners no matter what the rest of the country may think.

Deborah Montgomery said...

We live in the north, but my husband and I always try to practice good manners and taught our children to as well. I remember just standing in front of a shop door and waiting for my small son to pay attention and "remember" to open the door for me. My husband always opens the car door for me, which is something I never see being done anymore. Yesterday he held the door open for some older ladies at a restaurant. "Wow, a real gentleman," they commented with appreciation. but he says more often than not women will sail through the door with not even a thank you, and sometimes even look offended! Sigh. Keep fighting the good fight, Miss Janice! I have so much fun reading your posts, and got all my Thanksgiving decor out this morning after reading your last post. Thanks for remending me!

Tammy B said...

I was appalled by this article and was even more appalled by the comments (to the article, not to your blog post). My mother raised us with good manners. We commented a few weeks ago during a trip to Sevierville/Pigeon Forge about the total lack of manners these days. People would pratically walk over you. My mother considers people without manners to have not had any raising.

bevy said...

Hmmm... Just curious if Jesse or Al had anything to say.

CeCe said...

I have never understood why so many Southern bloggers think that good manners are exclusive to the South.

People with good and bad manners exist everywhere: north, south, east coast, west coast, midwest, etc. It's the way you are raised; the values you have that determine how you treat others.

I always hold the door for whoever is behind me, not just a man or a woman or an elderly person or teenager. (I am a woman in my late 30's).

I am a woman. I live in New England. I have manners!

I see the whole lack-of-manners situation to be attributed to the casual nature of our country (and society at large) and not a downfall of a certain geographic region.

Raven said...

I'm not sure why the "what Al or Jeese has to say" even matters. Miss Janice posted this article to showcase the lack of manners in the United States; not as a chance to attack "Jesse or Al" for what they have to say. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief those two men do not speak for the African American community, just like there are no token representatives for the White American community.

With that said, I agree that the use of manners are on a sharp decline and its not just a particular region or race; it is collectively all over the United States. I notice that when people reply with a "what?" instead of a "I'm sorry could you repeat that?". The word "what" in that manner always seem to make me cringe.

When you are very courteous people often praise you, when in fact it should be the norm.

Laura said...

Miss Janice, a few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a representative from outside my office. When I entered the conference room, the older black gentleman did not even rise to shake my hand. It ticked me off!

Lori said...

I was raised to have manners. Out of 7 children, I am the most "extreme" about manners and common courtesy. I want and expect them from others. Needless to say, sometimes I am disappointed. However, I do get doors opened for me by men all of the time when I am out and about and frequently get treated respectfully by strangers. I am a stickler about common courtesy.

Many people don't know their manners simply because they haven't been taught. Shame on their parents! But they can certainly learn manners as an adult if they have the desire to do so.

Bottom line. . . .you can go anywhere in the world and be well received if you have good manners!!


Anonymous said...

Somehow, it seems that this has become a discussion of "race and manners" instead of "manners and the South." Manners are not exclusive to the south and the notion that it is can be a bit insulting. It is interesting because when Americans travel abroad, they are usually the ones whose manners are so poor compared to how things are done in that country, that they stick out like a sore thumb.The term "outsiders" seems a bit offensive, too because although people come to the South from other states, apparently "rude states" it has nothing to do with where they're from. The State of New York never raised a child!! That child belongs to two people. Manners are not exclusive to a place, but a home. Also, a man that worked at that bar said that there were other (white) men that were seated and they chose the black men to give up their seats. That is why they felt it was racial. So in reality, NONE of those men chose to give up their seats. Al and Jesse have nothing to do with this, and to be perfectly honest, my West Indian parents have taught me more manners than what I've seen in the South thus far, and I've been in the South in three different states for some time. Sorry, but manners are not exclusive.

Miss Monograms said...

I happen to reside in Georgia, so perhaps I can shed a little bit of light onto this situation. I'm blessed to attend North Georgia College, where many of the young men are involved in some form or fashion in the military, so they are accountable not only to their mommas, but to their superiors. It's a wonderful treat to have men in uniform not only open doors and willingly give up seats, but also offer assistance any time they see a need. However, when I leave campus and travel south twenty-five miles to my home, I encounter a completely different environment. The area where I reside (Alpharetta, Georgia) has encountered rapid growth over the past few decades and instead of the sweet southern feel, there is the feeling of progress and an insatiable rush. It's akin to living in Atlanta when it comes to civility and manners. Just attempting to drive in my area is a test of will and composure. It's amazing the vast difference in mannerisms in areas just miles away from each other.

Kathie Truitt said...

In my travels the past few years I have found the best manners come from the Midwest - Indiana, Ohio, Illinois. This geographic area just never seems to change. I think it's unfair to judge by something that happened in Atlanta. It's such a big city. That's like folks from Europe making a trip to New York City and thinking they 'know' American culture.

Our world is becoming more lax, more casual, and so goes our etiquette.

I say 'yes ma'am' and 'yes sir' to EVERYONE. Even if you're younger than, and 9 times out of 10 they act insulted. I refuse to give in. It's a matter of respect and I won't give in. I am (quietly) appalled that people think it's an insult.

AngelaV said...

My children ARE taught to say yes maam/no maam and yes sir/no sir. And yes, GENTLEMEN offer their seat to a lady or an elderly person.

StephenH said...

I think in general there has been an etiquette erosion of society, and it is a serious issue society needs to resolve (Just look at the bullying epidemic in our schools for one). I personally think that manners should be taught in school.

Whosyergurl said...

Miss Janice, Cute post. I believe in manners and am happy to tell you that at both of the universities I've worked at (here in the midwest) lots of younger folks hold doors for me. I am always tickled and say thank you! My daughter lives in the east and I can't imagine anyone giving up a seat for anyone else on the metro. But, often in the east, I feel people are terse to the point of being rude. They act as if Hoosier hospitality irks them. I say whatever to that and shall remain my chatty, friendly self. My daughter will look at whomever I strike up a conversation with and say "she is from Indiana."
xo, Cheryl

Becky said...

I was raised in Northeast FL/South Georgia, and I am proud to say my daddy taught me how a gentleman should act! Now, I teach my New England-born husband, and he likes being the gentleman. I also teach my kids. Though, I have to say, I have gotten scolded myself for say "m'am" at work. One lady just this year told me it wasn't "professional." I responded that I was sorry she felt that way--it was intended as a sign of respect. Too bad!

Linda said...

If the women were in a bar they were not ladies. I was raised by a Southern mother and I was taught that there were certain public places in which a lady simply did not make an appearance if she wanted to keep her reputation and that a man could reasonably make certain assumptions about her character if she did.

Kori Emerson said...

I live in Utah. I am thankful that being kind and gracious are for the most part , part of our culture. my son Always opens doors and gives his seat to women and the Elderly. My daughter is more than Happy to do the same for Mothers and the elderly as well. Yes Ma'am and Sir.

Kori Emerson said...

I live in Utah. I am thankful that being kind and gracious are for the most part , part of our culture. my son Always opens doors and gives his seat to women and the Elderly. My daughter is more than Happy to do the same for Mothers and the elderly as well. Yes Ma'am and Sir.