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What happened to please and thank you?

Is civility dead? That's the issue TODAY is exploring during a three-part series.

Our readers were split on the issue.

Marilyn Cabral, of Warren, R.I., wrote that no one has time to be civil anymore. “People are so stressed out and always in such a hurry that politeness is losing its place in our lives,” she added.

But just as many of our readers said good manners are still alive and kicking. Laurel Boone, a professor at Saint Louis University, said she was “impressed” with her students’ manners. “They hold doors open, say thank you, and more.”

What do you think? Is civility dead? Let us know in the comments section below, and keep reading for more responses.

I am extremely short, so I ordinarily sit very close to the steering wheel of my car. When I was nine months pregnant, I became momentarily wedged under the steering wheel while I was trying to exit my car in the parking lot of my place of employment. A co-worker who considers himself to be a “Southern gentleman” paused to stare at me. Then he walked past me into the building. Later he explained that he didn't offer assistance because he knew I was a strong, independent woman who would resent the implication that I needed his help. I politely responded that if he ever had a mobility problem due to a broken leg, I would return the favor and not insult him with an offer of assistance. Since when did equality come to mean that no one ever needs help? — Jane, N.C.

I am a professor in the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University and have always been impressed by the civility and just plain good manners of my students. They hold doors open, say thank you, and more. Recently two students showed kindness to me that really got my attention. I have some trouble hearing soft-spoken students who sit in the back of the classroom. A student sitting in the front row unobtrusively “translated” for me while a student in the back asked a question. A few days later I was giving a test in another class and while the students were taking the test I was looking at the computer screen on my desk at the front of the classroom. Unknown to me the screen was projected at the front of the classroom. A student got my attention right away and said he wanted to be sure no one saw my e-mail. Both were thoughtful gestures from my undergrads.— Laurel Boone, St. Louis, Mo.

I think civility and etiquette are history. The last two couples my wife and I invited to our home for dinner responded with, “Is it okay to bring extra people?” One couple just brought three extra people without warning. Not to mention that one of the guests didn’t care for the steaks we served. Thus, one of us had to leave the house and go get something they desired. The other couple responded to the invite asking if it was OK to bring their adult child with along with her newborn baby. C’mon, we simply wanted to have a nice dinner with each couple. My wife and I have never responded to a dinner invitation from another couple asking if we could bring additional people. Moreover, we have never showed up at someone’s home with any extra guests. — Michael Roundtree, Hager City, Wis.

I work in downtown Pittsburgh and my 11-month-old son is in daycare in the same building. Every morning, I juggle multiple bags — my briefcase, my lunch, my son’s bottle bag and his diaper bag. I carry my large-for-his-age son in my arms as well. I must pass through several sets of glass doors to drop my son off at daycare. I am always amazed at how many people see me coming with my arms full, and stop and open the door for me. Men and women, young and old. And I am always so grateful for these good people who take the time to make my day just a little easier. I always say “Thank you,” but am glad for the opportunity to say it again. Thank you!— Kate, Pittsburgh, Pa.

When I’m out and about, I generally experience very courteous people who open doors, insist that I go first, and say please and thank you. Most will even strike up a conversation with people they don’t know while standing in the check-out line. I’ve even asked for an opinion or two from people I don’t know while shopping and have never been rejected. The incivility that permeates the airways seems to come from political opponents and their supporters that believe lies, rudeness and disrespect for the office of the president are acceptable. As an American, I am ashamed of the way some/most political candidates speak to incite rather than to invite people to listen to their plan to change or improve what they consider unacceptable. Our elections bring out the worst, or maybe the true character of people, which does not bode well for us as a nation. When the dust settles, if it ever does, where are we as a nation? Divided by the very people that say they want to solve problems. — Sharon Moore, Whittaker, Mich.

My husband and I were recently in an office waiting to be seen. There were several people in the waiting room, and it was extremely noisy. There was a mother that was letting her two little boys, approximately 3 and 4 years old, run wild. The lady at the front desk signing people in several times yelled, “If these are your kids please make them sit down. Please get your kids.” She then followed it up with a threat of “If you can’t control your kids, CPS [Child Protective Services] is next door.” When the mother finally got up to get her little boys the receptionist told her, “In this country we use a strap to control our kids.” My husband and I were both in shock, our jaws just hit our chests. For starters, we don’t use straps in this country to control our kids. Second, she had already threatened them with CPS, and the audacity to make a comment like that to someone that was not American is deplorable! — Lavonda Anthony, North Richland Hills, Texas

I was taking the rental car shuttle at LAX. There were about 14 people in the bus, 12 men and two women. One woman was seated, and I was the other woman and the only person standing (on heels that were pretty hard to stand in on a pitching bus). I was frustrated that watching my struggle not to fall over, not one man offered me his seat. I’d say civility is gone. — Maureen O., Cincinnati, Ohio

This summer I broke my ankle, necessitating a knee-high boot for three months. In large stores, the only way I can shop is by using one of the motorized scooter/carts. I have been surprised and appalled at the way riders of these carts are treated. The dirty looks are bad enough. But the number of people who cut me off surprised me. Probably most unexpected of all is the number of people who block aisles in conversation, turn and see I can’t get around them, and simply turn to continue their conversations. There are been one or two truly kind people who have noticed my difficulties reaching items and helped. One woman even offered to accompany me around the store to help. But these “angels” are few and far between. In a world where almost everyone is eventually going to suffer a disability, it is a sad commentary on our culture. — Carol Oyster, La Crosse, Wis.

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