Not too long ago, my speaking travels took me to Lexington, South Carolina.
I was speaking for a privately-owned trucking company. The occasion was the 23rd annual Safety Awards Banquet.
I have a deep appreciation for working with folks in the South. I especially enjoy the people in the Carolinas. You know, at one time, Tennessee was a part of the Carolina territory.
The southern accent of folks in South Carolina is slightly different from those in North Carolina. A North Carolina accent is very similar to how we talk in Tennessee.
When I go to South Carolina I look forward to sweet tea and great southern hospitality. I was not disappointed on this trip.
The company that had secured my services was a home-owned, built-from-a-humble-start kind of company. It employed 21 owner/operator, independent drivers. During the past year, the drivers had covered more than two million miles without a single insurance claim. Plus, not a single driver had accumulated any points on his/her driving record due to moving traffic violations. It was an impeccable safety record, and the owner of the company rewarded the drivers by gifting thousands of dollars in bonuses.
My audience that evening was composed of the truckers, their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, children and grandchildren. Others included members of management, the owner’s family, and a goodly number of friends from the owner’s church.
I must admit, it was my kind of crowd ... just good ole’, hard-working, country folks. It’s always gratifying to be a part of an event where a family atmosphere is so easy to recognize. Everyone was warm and friendly. Even the servers were well-mannered.
As is my custom, I refrained from eating before my speaking presentation. It was not easy to pass up real, Carolina wet barbecue. The audience laughed freely and hardily. I was glad to be there.
After a speaking presentation, I am usually very hungry. By the time I made it back to town and my hotel that evening, most eating establishments were closed. I was glad to see the McDonald’s sign — not my first choice — but not bad for late night. I eased up to the drive-up to place my order.
“May I help you, sir,” chirped a young voice in Carolina southern.
I don’t remember my question, but I remember her answer.
“Yes, sir,” she drawled.
As I finished giving my order, I said, “Thank you.”
She responded smartly, “You’re welcome, sir.”
When she delivered my order at the drive-up window, I could not help myself.
“Thank you for saying, ‘Yes, sir,’ and, ‘No, sir,’ and, ‘You’re welcome,’ ” I said. “ ‘Someone raised you right.’ ”
She said, “ ‘You’re welcome, sir. Actually, I’m older than I look. I grew up when kids were raised right.’ ”
I won’t forget her.
Have you noticed how kids today are quick to say things like, “Me and Joe are running to town,” or, “Me and my friends are going out,” or, “Me and my girlfriend had a fight.” Not only is it the incorrect use of a pronoun, it says something about the way our society has shaped our thinking. We are becoming a “me first” kind of people. It should be cause for alarm. And, quite frankly, it makes me very sad.
Too often, I see a young man, out on a date, strolling down the sidewalk, with his female companion following him like a puppy. Now, how special does that make her feel? Does he hold the door open for her? Too often he doesn’t. That’s out of style. When did we stop showing people what we use to call common courtesy? I guess common courtesy, like common sense, has become not so common.
Somewhere along the way, we have lost respect for ourselves, and when you lose your self-respect, you no longer respect your fellow man (and fellow woman).
The Good Book teaches us to “be kind, one to another.” Good manners are nothing more than showing kindness to fellow pilgrims. From time to time, we must remind ourselves we are just a’ passing through.
Was it a stanza in a poem that went like this ...
“Only one life, t’will soon be passed, only what’s done with love will last.”