Glenn Reynolds devotes one of his postings to noting the differences in manners one encounters upon changing latitudes.
As a recent (female) Yankee transplant to the south, I canâ€™t speak of past southern manners, but I can speak of what Iâ€™ve seen and experienced since Iâ€™ve been here. Itâ€™s been nothing short of culture shock, in a wonderful way. I work in a retail store where itâ€™s occasionally required of me to help customers out to their cars with heavy packages. I have no problem with this, but I have yet to seen a man let me take the heavier box, and if I try to, they wonâ€™t let me. My male co-workers wonâ€™t curse in front of me, or even discuss â€œinappropriateâ€ subjects without first saying â€œexcuse my languageâ€ or â€œpardon me for thisâ€. I routinely have customers tell me not to worry about helping them with heavy packag, and that I should make the guys carry them. Iâ€™m called â€œmaâ€™amâ€! (And occasionally, â€œdarlinâ€™â€, which is also perfectly acceptable.) Iâ€™m treated like a lady wherever I go, not just another random customer. I rarely have to open a door for myself, and I canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve been offered assistance to my car when my arms are full after grocery shopping, from both men and women alike. …
Iâ€™m amazed and grateful for a culture that teaches such manners. If this is a decline in southern manners, then I can only imagine what they were like at their peak.
UPDATE: Reader Bruce Webster writes: â€œIâ€™ve lived in Texas twice â€” two years in Houston (1979-81), and 18 months in Dallas (1998-99). The phenomenon is real. There is a cultural graciousness that permeates all ages. It doesnâ€™t mean there arenâ€™t jerks there (though I suspect a lot of them are transplants), but it does mean that there are genuine good manners everywhere. I think itâ€™s the guns. :-) ..Bruce.â€