DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - A teenager opens a car door and a young lady steps out. She takes his arm while ascending the steps into a building. These youngsters are showing off their manners skills.
Laura Ritch is Morgan County's etiquette guru and the director of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillion.
She said good manners are a matter of treating people with honor, dignity, and respect.
"The reason why you learn the rules is so you don't ever offend anybody," she said.
Many people today believe that civility and manners are extinct - a tribute to times gone by, yet still in the past. Some parents sojourn on, making sure their children can at least grasp the basics.
Some believe that squabbles or misunderstandings might be avoided; there might be a little less road rage, if people extended courtesy to driving. For example: following the traffic laws, not cutting people off and waiting your turn.
The objective is to make everyone feel comfortable. That can be tough in a dining situation where people are packed in and you are not sure which plates are yours.
Ritch said there are some easy tips to remember.
"'B' is for bread and 'D' is for drink and in the middle is going to be your plate," said Ritch.
Another question at a formal setting is which utensil to use.
"The rule of thumb is you start on the outside and work your way in," said Ritch. She said if there are more than 13 utensils, the host is tacky.
Whether it's a business or social setting, there is a sort of road map you can follow.
"If you're totally at a loss, watch the person, who is your host," Ritch said.
Many social graces transcend to the business world.
"You want to make a good impression because you are representing that company," she said.
Mary-Sidney Ritch is a 24-year-old marketing annalist from Spanish Fort. She said the first step is with the job interview. Timeliness, polite conversation and proper business attire are all etiquette musts.
"Grooming is very important. Everything about you says something, down to your fingernails," she said.
She said good manners are as important in the board room as in a social situation.
And if you travel overseas, google the country and etiquette, and remember to keep those elbows off the table.