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web posted February 3, 2006
COLUMN – I had a conversation with a friend yesterday and the subject of common Southern courtesy came up. The topic came up while comparing “pet peeves” and many of both of our peeves seemed to stem from the lack of respect and common courtesy in many people today.
As we talked the idea of what we called Edgefield Etiquette, as we remember it from our youth, seems to be missing from more and more people in our area. Part of the problem, and it is a problem, is due to people from other parts of the country moving here. Now, I am not saying outsiders should not come to Edgefield County. I am just saying if they do come, they need to adapt a little. In an effort to help that process along here are some suggestions to newcomers and our area youth.
First, when you meet a funeral procession while driving you pull over to the side of the road and wait until all cars in the procession have passed. It is called respect. It will not make you late and you are not so important that you cannot afford the time to show the grieving family compassion.
Another thing that is sorely lacking is “yes mam” and “yes sir”. There is nothing that shows the failure of a parent in raising a child than when they speak to adults as inferior persons. So many children today not only refuse to add sir or mam when referring to an adult but they openly defy their elders and think it is acceptable. It may be acceptable in the failed home, but it is not acceptable Edgefield Etiquette.
Emergency vehicles with lights and sirens on means they are trying to get to a call where someone else is in danger, pain, or on fire. Pull over and let them pass. While driving to cover a fire the other day I happened to end up behind a fire truck. I was able to catch up to the fire truck not because I was speeding, but because they had to slow down because the people in front of them refused to get out of the way.
Women are a very important part of Edgefield Etiquette. Men should seat a woman at the table before they are seated. When a woman gets up to leave a table, the men should rise. Doors are to be held open for all women, even if it means waiting a moment for an approaching woman to get to the door. The same applies for the car door as well.
If seating is limited where you are and a woman enters, a man should relinquish his seat to her. Elderly women should be helped across the street. (That is not just for Boy Scouts) If you invite a woman to diner, the man pays. There is no “going Dutch”. Going “Dutch” means you are flying to Holland.
The most important rule regarding women and Edgefield Etiquette is a man, at all times, will defend the honor of a woman. This applies to others using profane language in the presence of a woman (or children) as well.
If you encounter a person on the side of the road with car trouble you stop and help. If it is a woman with a flat tire, you will change the tire and refuse to take any money.
Another forgotten rule is private property means just that. You do not enter property unless you own it or have permission to be there. Just because there is not a fence does not mean you can freely walk through the woods. Claiming you did not know it was private property is not an excuse. You knew it was not your property therefore it must be someone’s and therefore private.
Never point your finger in someone’s face while speaking to him or her. It is not only rude, but it can also result in a broken finger, or worse.
Law Enforcement personnel are to be respected. These men and women put their lives on the line every day for our protection and they do it for a lot less money than most people make each year. There is not a single officer that goes to work each day thinking he or she is going to get rich as a result of their efforts.
If the person in front of you at the store is short a little for their purchase, you offer to pay the difference.
There are several more items that could be added to this list but suffice it to say that Edgefield Etiquette basically says we are all family. You respect others just as you would your elders and in your own family. The worst thing that could ever happen to our county would be the loss of the true Southern Christian Edgefield Etiquette that has permeated our history.
Perhaps our local schools should offer a course in Edgefield Etiquette. I am sure there are several of our senior citizens who could instruct the class, and in turn, we would see a drastic drop in crimes and drug arrests in the future
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