So. I am a native New Yawker who lived in Los Angeles for close to 15 years. I am back in my hometown, and loving it! We shot BUTTERFLY RISING in Columbus, Mississippi (not far from where THE HELP was shot) and so I got to spend a nice, long stretch of time in the South.
I've gotta admit, given Mississippi's history, I was unsure of what to expect. I found the folks there to be lovely, kind, patient and GENEROUS (they let us shoot our little movie! On their front porches! While serving us lemonade and home-baked cookies! Well, maybe not home baked cookies, but you get the point, LOL!). I found them to be super-hospitable. Not that the folks in LA and NY ain't (BTW, the stories about NY crudeness are GREATLY exaggerated), but it was different. Sweeter. And definitely slower.
While I was there, I began to pick up southern-speak-- I adopted the practice of calling folks "sir" and "ma'am." I have no idea why other than it just felt...right. And when I returned to the most easterly and westerly cities in the country, I continued to do it. I noticed the effect it had on folks: most are surprised, at first-- it's rare that folks are that formal these days. But I also noticed a slight ease in their breath after I addressed them as such. "Sir" and "ma'am" are signs of respect, too, and I noticed I used them a lot with the folks who probably got them the least: waiters/waitresses, busboys, janitors. They almost always gave me a smile. With the others, I almost always got what I wanted.
Try sprinkling a "sir" and "ma'am" in your everyday goings on and you'll see what I mean. It's a sign of humility and respect. And I can guarantee this: you'll almost ALWAYS get what you want:)
XO Tanya XO
TANYA WRIGHT plays the role of DEPUTY KENYA JONES on HBO'S TRUE BLOOD. She is the writer/director of the upcoming indie feature BUTTERFLY RISING and author of the book of the same name.