By Norma J. Kirkpatrick
Guest columnist

I was born in the South many years ago, and though I have lived in eight states and two foreign countries, I never lost my southern accent. I also kept what I was taught about good manners and doing what was courteous.

As I moved from place to place through the years, I suspected those teachings were passé, as I saw less and less evidence of their existence. The world was just too busy for such as that.

Over 14 years ago, I decided to settle down in a cozy little town called Opelika. You will be able to pronounce it, if you remember it has the word “like” in it.

I lived here but a short while before I decided to drive downtown to the post office. As I parked the car and headed for the front door, I noticed a man I did not know was standing there holding the door open for me, though he could easily have let the door swing in my face and be on his way. He was patient and smiling.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Yes, ma’am. Have a nice day.”

I was certain this was an anomaly I would never see again; people didn’t do things like that anymore.

On another occasion, as I left the post office, the young woman exiting ahead of me held the door open until I could get there.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You are most welcomed,” she replied, with a lovely smile. “Isn’t this a beautiful day today?”

“It certainly is,” I replied – and you have made it that way, I thought.

Sweltering heat, freezing cold, rain or sun; month after month, good manners and kindness prevailed at the doors of the post office in Opelika. Young or old, all sizes, all shades of skin merged into a sweetness of humanity to one another, including me.

Not once since I have moved to this fair little town with the big heart have the doors swung coldly in my face. And not once since I started going to the Opelika Post Office have I allowed the door to swing rudely in the face of another, as I see them coming up the sidewalk. Some older, some younger, some infirm and some skipping along; some toasty brown and others ivory white, and everything in between; and every one offering a greeting with a smile.

Those doors have homogenized us without a thought of station in life or grandeur of dress, humble or aspiring, or strange accent.

My husband of 54 years died two years ago, and if I start to feel sad or alone, I just go to the Opelika Post Office and hold open the door for someone – if I can get there before they hold open the door for me.

If you ever want to see a “Hometown USA,” just drop by and see us some time. Someone will be holding the door open for you at the post office in Opelika. I promise you will “like” it!

Editor’s note: We, too, are always pleased with the kindness, friendliness and hospitality we find on our almost-daily post office visits, an atmosphere created by both other customers as well as the hard-working folks behind the desk.

We offer our sincere appreciation and love to this community for its sense of common courtesy and community-mindedness that is lacking from so many areas today. We in Opelika are truly fortunate.