Jay Rodgers and his family were on their way home from a Tim McGraw concert last month when they stopped at a gas station in Atlanta. As he was going into the station, he held the door for another man to enter.
Later, he told a local TV station: "I opened up the door for a gentleman. He walked in, and I quietly said, ‘Why don't you say thank you for holding the door open?'"
The man didn't say anything so Rodgers, apparently an undercover officer with the Etiquette Police, followed him outside and asked him to say "thank you" again.
Still the man said nothing.
"He went to his car, put whatever he purchased inside it, and he pulled out a gun and shot me." Rodgers said. "I passed out in my wife's arms."
Rodgers suffered an injury to his abdomen. He was hospitalized for nine days. He ended his interview with a plea to the shooter: "I'm mad, but if you're watching this, do the right thing and turn yourself in."
Oh yeah, that's gonna happen.
In the words of my idol, Harris Blackwood, you just can't make this stuff up. Here's a guy in a town where people can get shot for making eye contact and he's going all Emily Post on a stranger? What on earth was he thinking?
I'm old school when it comes to manners. I'm all for "please" and "thank you" and holding the door for others and addressing elders as "ma'am" and "sir."
However, I limit my face-to-face lectures on the practical applications of such behaviors to those in my immediate gene pool. As a result, I've ended up with well-mannered children. And I've never been shot.
With ink still drying on diplomas all over the county, all this makes a tidy little segue to a topic that needs to be addressed. That of thank-you notes.
Kids, they have to be written. Now. Not when you get back from Panama City. Not before you go off to college. Not before Christmas. Now.
I'm astonished at how many gifts, mostly checks, that I've sent at graduation time which were never acknowledged. That is, unless you count the endorsement on the back of the check.
I have a long memory. I remember who couldn't be bothered to send a high school graduation note when college graduation rolls around. Ditto with wedding announcements. That's how people end up with a set of puce kitchen towels instead of a Sunbeam mixer. Passive-aggressive? Moi?
At our house we've always had a rule: You can't enjoy the gift until the note
has been written. Games couldn't be opened until the gift had been acknowledged. Checks couldn't be cashed. Clothing couldn't be worn. It has worked like a charm.
Now it's automatic and it's moved beyond just thank yous for presents. The other day, I saw Rachel sit down at the kitchen table with stationary and pen. It was nowhere near her birthday so I was curious.
Turns out she was writing a note to an Elachee employee who had helped her with a biology project. My work here is done.
A lot of folks claim they don't send thank-you notes because they don't know what to say. I came across the perfect outline recently. Here's all you have to do: greet the giver, express gratitude, discuss use, allude to the future and then offer a grace note.
It should go something like this: Dear Uncle Jack, Thank you so much for the slide rule. I'm sure it will come in handy when I get to Georgia Tech. I bet I'll be the only kid in my class with one in his backpack. I'll think of you every time I look at it. With love and appreciation, your nephew, Bob.
See? It's that easy. Oh, and one more thing. It doesn't count if the US Postal Service isn't involved. You can't email, Tweet or Face Book a proper thank you. It has to be mailed.
Old school? Yes and proud of it. And now that I've said my piece, I'm going to go tat some lace.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.