Miss Manners lives

Published 12:22 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

There’s something to be said for good manners.

I’ve written a column or two in the past about my observances. One in particular comes to mind – a trip where a feed store worker, observing a funeral procession coming down the road, pauses in his duties to place his cap over his heart. Believe it or not, that’s not an everyday occurrence any more. And believe it or not, that boy’s mother called me a few days after the column printed to thank me. Someone raised her right as well.

A week or so ago, a late night at work meant a late supper at Huddle House. My mother had called to coordinate her upcoming stay when my daughter had surgery the following week.

About 10 minutes into the conversation, I found myself doing something I hate doing – walking into a restaurant talking on a cell phone. Our pleasantries finished, I sat down in the booth and said “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” in the appropriate places as we finalized things.

At some point, the lady in the booth in front of us turned around, stared at me hard, gave me “the eye” and turned back around. I thought to myself then, she must have recognized me from my photo with this column and was mad at me for writing something about her loved one going to jail. That happens to me a lot in this business.

When I hung up the phone, the lady turned back around. I put on my smile and waited for it to come at me.

“When I heard you say, ‘yes, ma’am,’ I had to turn around and see who it was,” she said. “You never hear young people say that any more. It used to be that was how it was done. Not anymore.”

I was flabbergasted and a bit taken back. Here I was ready to defend myself and she was giving me a compliment.

“Well, I was talking to my mother,” I said. “She might have come through the phone at me if I didn’t use my manners.”

I went on to tell how one thing will stick with my children, and, by goodness, they will have polite manners – saying “please” and “thank you,” and “yes” and “no”, and end it with a “sir” or a “ma’am.” If not, it will end with raised eyebrows or even an “excuse me” until they realize what they forgot. If that doesn’t work, we all know what happens after that.

At the end of the conversation, she turned back around and I gave my order to the waitress. I felt a smile come across my face when I realization struck. I needed to practice what I preached, after all she’d just called me young, and my momma always taught me to accept a compliment with a smile. It’s good manners, after all.