If you’ve spent any time in The South, I’m fairly confident that you will have heard your fair share of “sirs” and “ma’ams,” and in a culture and society where civility and common decency… let alone chivalry… are becoming all but extinct, this is breath of fresh air.
Etiquette… manners, for lack of a better word… is still taught in many segments of The South.
In polite circles, gentlemen still stand when a lady enters the room. Gentlemen nod with perhaps the slightest of bows when they take their leave of a lady. Doors are opened for ladies. Chairs are pulled out and tucked in. “Ladies first” rarely needs to be said… it is a given.
The old saying is that if a woman’s car breaks down at the side of the road, all she has to do is lift the hood and stand by her car. Not 5 minutes will go by before some gentleman… even a truckload of them… will pull up and offer her a hand. My dearly beloved friend from Arkansas, Danielle, confirms this. “Hell… they LIVE for that kind of stuff!”
In grocery stores, gentlemen routinely allow ladies to go ahead in the checkout line. If a lady needs a shopping cart (or buggy, as they are often called), a gentleman will offer to give her his own.
While not born or raised in The South, I’ve adopted the practice of calling just about everyone Sir or Ma’am. I get mixed reactions, to be sure. Some girls think it is quaint or cute. Some women take it as a remark that they look older than they are.
One lady, I believe at the post office, smiled wistfully and said to me, “I can’t remember the last time someone called me Ma’am!”
She patted my arms and said, “Don’t ever stop doing that.”
I do not intend to!