Mis-Manners--Are You Minding Your Manners?

Sixth graders are creating "manner banners" to hang up throughout the halls.
Sixth graders are creating "manner banners" to hang up throughout the halls.
Barbara Martin-Golden teaches manners in her classroom at St. James Catholic School.
Barbara Martin-Golden teaches manners in her classroom at St. James Catholic School.

SAVANNAH, GA--There once was a time when presentation was of the utmost importance. The way you carried yourself not only represented you, but your family as well. So manners were learned and put into practice on a daily basis, well into adulthood.

Manners are still taught in a classroom setting by teachers like Barbara Martin-Golden at St. James Catholic School.

In fact, the sixth graders are creating "manner banners" to hang up throughout the halls, just in case their schoolmates need reminders on how to behave.

"Polite manners are a positive reflection of you," said one student reading her poster. "Some manners are, 'you're welcome, holding doors, God bless you, thank you, yes ma'am and no sir, yes ma'am and no ma'am.'"

"It makes or breaks a person's day," said Martin-Golden.

And if manners really do make or break a person's day, it seems like many days have been ruined.

"My top pet peeve is when you are walking around and people cut in front of you," said Steve Gardner of Massachusetts. "They don't even say excuse me. Or if you hold a door for them if you're going into a shop or out of a shop, they don't even have the courtesy to say thank you."

"My top pet peeve is people not opening doors for others or holding doors when they have gone through," said Jan Junge of Colorado. "It seems to be a lost art."

"When you are standing in line and somebody butts in or pushes in front of you," said Nancy Smith of Orlando.

"It seems to be pretty much that people are focusing on themselves and they don't really care how they treat those around them," said etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey.

Ramsey is a social and business etiquette expert in Savannah. She's actually written a book on the subject.

She believes the explanation as to why there is a sort of disregard for manners these days is complicated, but here's one reason.

"When you have both parents working, there's not as much time for the family to spend together and there's not much time for the families to sit down together and talk about their values and talk about their behaviors and talk about manners," said Ramsey. "People used to sit down at the dinner table and they learned table manners at the dinner table. And it's really hard to teach table manners to somebody who is eating french fries out of a bag in the backseat of the car."

It seems as if the most annoying thing when it comes to the lack of manners is when someone does not hold the door for someone else when they are walking out of the door.

So we went to Savannah Mall to see if residents of this Hostess City are truly gracious hosts.

We asked Raven Favor to help us conduct our "manners" test. She agreed to walk in and out of the doors just so we could see who would hold the door for her and who would not.

After about an hour and a half of "testing", Raven was asked to grade the display of manners or the lack thereof.

"Some people held the door extremely open, some people just did a little tap, or just that quick I'm opening it, I'm getting through, catch it or not," said Favor. "I'd give them a C+ maybe."

C+ is passing, but it's not an A, meaning there is room for improvement.

The lessons in manners begin early, but as teachers throughout the country have always said, "practice makes perfect."

Reported By: Karla Redditte, kredditte@wtoc.com