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Have manners, show respect

I was driving back to Oxford Sunday afternoon after spending the weekend on the Mississippi coast attending my first Mardi Gras ball and visiting family and friends when I noticed several vehicles pulled over on the side of the road on Highway 49 just north of Collins, which is between Jackson and Hattiesburg.

At first I feared it may be a car wreck but as I got closer I realized the vehicles were stopped on the shoulder of this major four-lane highway to honor a passing funeral procession. I also pulled off the road onto the shoulder out of respect to the deceased and their family. Although several vehicles blew through on their way up the highway, it’s a tradition in the South to pull off the road to show respect and I will assume those drivers were unaware.

It is well-documented that Mississippians for the most part get a bad rap from those outside our state with terms like “backwards” and “ignorant,” but there is plenty that the rest of our nation could take a lesson from, including showing respect to the family of the dead.

Watching and waiting on the procession of vehicles go by got me to thinking that there are plenty of other traditions in Mississippi and the South the rest of the United States may want to emulate to show signs of respect, especially to a lady, including:

Saying yes ma’am and yes sir … this was taught to my two brothers and I at an early age, especially to our elders.

Opening the door for a lady … whether it’s the car door or the door to the restaurant.

Allow her to walk through the door first … when you open the door for her follow through with this.

Hold the umbrella for her … when its raining, make sure she is dry.

Never use profanity … cussing in front of or to a lady is the ultimate sign of disrespect. And my Mom will wash your mouth out with soap if you’re caught doing so.

Help her with her coat … always assist her with putting on and taking off her coat.

Never walk in front of her … always walk behind her to protect her.

Walk her to her vehicle or front door … never allow her to cross a street or walk alone.

Give up your seat … offering your seat to a lady is a must in a crowded room.

Be on time … never keep her waiting, although that is her right.

Be complimentary … tell her how great she looks, even if she is late.

Pull out her chair … especially in a restaurant.

Sit after she sits … treat her as if she is your guest.

Listen to her … turn off the ballgame on the TV and listen to the conversation she is having with you. Time is the most important gift and is a huge sign of respect.

Get off your iPhone … always be attentive and never look distracted by your cellphone.

I hope a few of these will remind all of us, especially the guys, that respect should be a priority and come naturally. And if you have not heard or been taught any of these items please begin practicing them. They will go a long way toward developing and enhancing your character.

But most of all, remember that if you are living in the South, take a moment out of your busy schedule to pull over on the side of the road and pay your final respects to a passing funeral procession. You would want the same tribute given to you or your loved one.

Rob Sigler is managing editor of The Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.