Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002
At the core of most stereotypes lies a kernel of truth. The South has many such stereotypes – some good, some bad, some complete fabrication. One such stereotype is that of "Southern hospitality." After visiting cities across the United States, it is delightful to discover that this gentle aspect of our society is, in fact, true. But will it be for much longer, or will it pass into the mythos along with mint juleps and hoop skirts?
With the advent of the automobile, television and Internet, our lives have changed from the "Mayberry" days of casual strolls and front porch gossip.
Instead of the drawled "Y'all come back now," we now get a staccato "thanks-and-have-a-nice-day" over the drive-thru intercom.
Consider yourself lucky to get that much. It seems that the faster our lives move, the less time we have for the pleasantries, proving that faster does not necessarily mean better.
While most workers in most restaurants and groceries stores retain that Southern grace and friendly disposition, we are seeing less and less of it as time goes by. It is a grievous loss, for it marks a breakdown in communication and a gap in our connection with each other. We are bound as a community by laws but we become a true, caring community by mutual consent and mutual respect. Bad manners indicate a lack of respect, which indicates a far more serious flaw within our societal structure.
We have become so insular, so absorbed with self, that it is our time that matters, not her needs, or it is our needs that matter, not his feelings.
It is time to step out of ourselves and reach out to each other. A simple "Please" or "Thank you" is more than "mouth honor" - it is a way of establishing our relationships and recognizing each other as fellow beings, worthy of respect, courtesy and, yes, Southern hospitality.