Taking A Bullet For Good Manners

by admin on May 16, 2011

The news reporter’s comment that Jay Rodgers got shot merely for opening a door for another person doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

Man Shot After Manners Scolding
Channel 2′s Eric Philips reports.
May 13, 2011
ATLANTA — A Douglasville man said he was shot after trying to give another man a lesson on manners. Police are still looking for the shooter.

Jay Rodgers and his family were on their way home from a Tim McGraw concert last month when they stopped at an Atlanta Shell station so his niece could use the bathroom. He said he felt insulted after a man he encountered ignored a polite gesture.

“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?’” Rodgers told Channel 2’s Eric Philips.

When the man didn’t respond, Rodgers said he followed him outside and asked him to say “thank you” again, but the man kept quiet.

“He went to his car, put whatever he purchased inside it, and he pulled out a gun and shot me from about 15 to 16 feet away from me,” Rodgers said. “I passed out in my wife’s arms.”

The remainder of this article as well as a news video can be viewed here.

The news media portrays Jay Rodgers as a hero of good graces and manners, a man shot in the defense of courtesy.   I may be the first and only person to go on record for saying that had Jay Rodgers really understood manners, the likelihood of his getting shot would have been non-existent.

The first thing that jumps out was Mr. Rodger’s self serving manners.  He expects something for his courtesy of opening the door and the price is some acknowledgment, some validation of his behavior from the person receiving the benefit of his actions.     “Graciousness” is defined as “extending the hand of kindness to the undeserving”, and that includes clods who never acknowledge what you do for them.    We exercise courtesy to others and strangers because it betters society and ourselves to do so.   If you behave in socially courteous ways in order to receive reciprocity or verbal praise, you are being courteous for the wrong reasons.

Mr. Rodgers is solely responsible for his own manners (and as a parent, for his children’s until they are of age) and no one else’s.   His second mistake was to assume it was within his sphere of responsibility to educate a total stranger, an adult male, in the ways of manners.   It was not the time nor place to have that conversation even if he *was* in a position to speak into the man’s life.

Mr. Rodgers then is either oblivious  or completely disregards the very obvious non-verbal message being given to him and proceeds to press his point by following the man and nagging him pedantically.    He’s  a man on a mission to fulfill his own agenda of “pushing” a manners education on a stranger rather than letting his example be the message.   In summary, Mr. Rodgers was one rude dude.

Does this all justify someone pulling a gun and shooting him?  Of course not.  We all know the right and wrong of a very obvious illegal, criminal act.   But it’s the subtle nuances of social interaction that people seem far more confused as to what is correct and what is not.  Discretion is a large part of good manners, so is the good graces to overlook someone ignoring a kindness.   Had Jay Rodgers opened the door for the man as just a courteous gesture to a fellow human with no expectation of receiving reciprocal courtesies, there would be no news story to report.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Typo Tat May 16, 2011 at 7:53 am

I agree with Ms Jeanne, this Jay Rodgers got shot for his rude holier-than-thou attitude. Most people won’t physically harm someone who’s just being obnoxious, but in their mind they want to!

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Hal May 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

I would refuse to accept the courtesy. I would suggest that the man holding the door “Go ahead.” Why? They were at a gas station. They were strangers. If I pass by I am vulnerable for a moment. I might be being set up. Men do not hold the door for other men unless there are additional reasons such as infirmity or advanced age to do so. Also, there are men who like to do things for other men so they can “meet” them. Going in first and holding the door for another man to follow is fine.

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LovleAnjel May 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

It bears repeating, none of what happened warrants being shot. However, not only was it rude to ask for a verbal thank you, it was aggressive to follow the person *to his car* while continuing to demand a thanks. That is creepy. If it were me, I would have called the police.

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aje May 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

I got the same impression… even if you demand a thank you, it isn’t nearly as gratifying as if the person had said it on their own. Mr. R is, indeed, a rude dude.

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Chocobo May 16, 2011 at 8:27 am

Well, there might have still been a news story to report, as the shooter is clearly disturbed and may have shot someone anyway (who shoots someone who’s just plain annoying?), but then the victim would have been less at risk, for sure.

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Xtina May 16, 2011 at 8:43 am

Oh, wow–this is a case of manners gone way, way wrong. I am sorry that Mr. Rodgers got shot. However, and I don’t mean in any way that the shooter’s actions were justified, but Mr. Rodgers did sort of invite trouble when he chose to badger the man about his manners. Surely a random person who would not say thank you, or respond in any way when you speak to them or do something nice for them, would not be the kind of person I would feel safe continuing to carry on a conversation with.

Admin is right on in her assessment–if Mr. Rodgers was seeking “glory” in holding the door open for a stranger and was upset when he didn’t get it–then he’s the kettle calling the pot black. Again, it was certainly no reason for the man to shoot him–that was way out of line–but just sayin’.

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Hemi Halliwell May 16, 2011 at 8:50 am

I completely agree with Admin’s comments on this story.
I live about 50 miles outside of Atlanta and this story received quite a bit of coverage. I understand Mr. Rodgers being a little miffed at the man not saying “Thank You” but it was completely insane to follow a stranger into a parking lot, at night, in Atlanta because he wanted that thanks.
I think he is extremely lucky that his wife was not thanking family and friends for their condolences on his loss.

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Elizabeth May 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

I agree with you 100%. The moment he instructed the Guy to tell him thanks he became wrong. Following the Guy is what got him shot, not that it justifies it.

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Heather May 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

He definitely didn’t deserve to be shot, but I think his behavior was bordering on harassment. If I neglected to thank a stranger for holding the door and that stranger followed me to my car reprimanding me for it I really think I would be more than a little scared for my safety. I’m not justifying shooting, but I can see where Mr. Rodgers was in the wrong too.

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Just Laura May 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

What if the man were deaf/hard of hearing? All that poor guy knows is that some angry stranger is following him back to his car late at night in a parking lot (I assume Tim McGraw concerts are over in the evenings).
I’m not saying that shooting someone is okay. Still, the guy could have felt threatened.

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K May 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

Paybacks are a b*tch. I had a door incident in college. I had strep throat and, being a student, no funds to do anything about it. So I stepped out of the library (where I worked) to get a drink and was going to hold the cold water in my throat and get back to shelving books.
Guy got to the door ahead of me and opened it.
Damn.
I started to swallow my hard-earned water when he lost his mind and started yelling about people being ungrateful for common courtesy, blah, blah, blah, then stormed off in a huff. So, I got more water, and went back to work.
A few weeks later, my roommate brought in her new boyfriend. Guess who? Heh, heh, heh, and I had my voice back. I laid into him so hard that he was absolutely a puddle of contrition. I mean, seriously, who takes these things personally? It’s crazy!

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Clair Seulement May 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

Bravo! In 600% agreement with every word.

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--Lia May 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

When I read the story, the first thing that occurred to me was that the shooter might have been hard of hearing or speak another language. I can think of times I’ve been lost in another world and have zoned out momentarily. I’m honestly not paying much attention. Then if someone followed me out to my car nagging me about something I didn’t quite understand, I might feel threatened. I’d never react so violently, and I’m certainly not making excuses for someone committing a crime of that magnitude, but part of me understands where the guy was coming from.

Maybe the shooter comes from a culture where a nod is considered an acceptable response of thanks. Maybe the shooter has run into a situation where a bum does a favor or does something harmless to attract attention, then harasses his target for money. Whatever the circumstance, the victim needs to learn that when someone has made it clear that they wish to be left alone by ignoring you, do the polite thing and leave them alone.

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Twik May 16, 2011 at 9:19 am

Remember the rule that it is rude to tell people that they are rude? This was by far the worse etiquette violation in this situation. Not enough to warrant shooting someone, but harassing people because they didn’t respond to your “politeness” shows there was little politeness in the first case.

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gramma dishes May 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

Obviously I don’t condone the shooting, but I suspect the guy felt threatened by this guy following him around making demands. Pursuing someone you don’t know through a parking lot all the way to his car at night is probably not the best idea under any circumstances.
Who knows what the shooter may have thought the Manners Guy was going to do? Was he going to be mugged? Car jacked? Beaten up? Propositioned?
I think it could be seen as a case (misguided though it may have been) of the assailant believing he was just protecting himself.

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Pat May 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

By criticizing the man for not saying thank you, he showed that his courtesy was not for the man, but only for his own self-righteousness. He was not doing a kindness for the stranger, but rather building up himself in his own and perhaps onlookers’ eyes by holding the door open. When he didn’t get the praise he expected, he showed what he really thought of others….that they exist to make him look good. And we only have his word for what happened. Perhaps he was abusive toward the stranger and frightened him.

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Connie May 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

I concur that it chaps my hide when someone doesn’t acknowledge a polite gesture, but confronting someone about it is ridiculous. From the time that I was in high school, if someone didn’t say “Thank-you”, I simply said “Your welcome” in a pleasant tone as if they had, it diffuses my own agitation and usually gets at least a mumbled “Thank-you” from the distracted individual that has failed to notice someone holding the door for them.

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Marlene May 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

Admin is spot on, and I’ll echo other people’s comments that while I don’t advocate shooting people, a total stranger was nagged, possibly threatened, and followed back to his car at a dark gas station. This Jay Rodgers guy is clearly a dinkus, so we have no idea of how aggressive he *really* was, so I’m going to assume the fellow that shot him felt threatened and overreacted.

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PhDeath May 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

Agree with Admin; respectfully disagree with “Hal.”

To imply that a man holding a door for an age-peer/not infirm man is either setting him up for a crime or a date is a bit absurd.

My husband, for instance, is a law-abiding gentleman with no interest in same-sex relations. He is, however, a firefighter whose spirit of civil service does not end with his work shifts. He holds doors for anyone, anywhere – he’s into equal opportunity etiquette, we’ll say. :)

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Louise May 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

I agree with admin. It is wrong to shoot people; however, if you follow people around demanding they appreciate you, you are going to come off as a lunatic.

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Ashley May 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

While nothing can possibly justify the fact that he got shot, the fact that he followed this guy to his car to pretty much DEMAND a thank you? Wow. I open doors for people all the time, it is how I was brought up. Nine times out of ten I get a thank you, and the other one time I don’t get thanked, I realize other people may have other things on their minds and might just be a little spacey that day and I carry on with my day.

Obviously this was going to make the news, it is a random shooting, those always make the news. But WHY he got shot is his own doing. Once again, it is NOT a justified shooting, but he followed the dude to his car over not receiving a thank you…had he just let it go, he wouldn’t have gotten shot that day.

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Mary May 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

What was this man thinking? To follow a stranger to his car? While he clearly did not deserve to get shot, if I were being followed by some strange man, I would feel harassed. I agree with the admin completely; one practices good manners for their own sake, not to be thanked or rewarded. This man acted without regard to his own safety when he followed a stranger and confronted him about a non-issue.

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Robert May 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

@Hal RE “Men do not hold the door for other men unless there are additional reasons such as infirmity or advanced age to do so”

Not true. I’m a man and I often hold doors open for either gender and have had both women and men hold doors open for me. The only time someone chastised me for it was a woman who declared that I had a sexist attitude and I was quite happy that I could honestly tell her that my attempt at being courteous had absolutely nothing to do with her gender.

Quite frankly your reference to being momentarily vulnerable and that some men do things for other men to “meet” them makes you sound paranoid and somewhat homophobic.

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Chocobo May 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

Hal, that’s a pretty paranoid, and with your last comment bordering on homophobic, reason to not accept a common courtesy. My husband holds the door for anyone who is coming in after him. It’s just the nice thing to do for anyone, healthy or sick, young or old, male or female. If American etiquette is about The Great Equalizer, it shouldn’t matter who is coming through the door after you.

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Sarah Jane May 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

Amen to Just Laura. We don’t know the circumstances of total strangers.

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Abby May 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Those were my thoughts exactly as soon as Rodgers insisted the guy thank him. Just as it was Rodgers’ choice to hold open the door, it was the other guy’s choice to not verbally acknowledge it.

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ladycrim May 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Not that anything justifies the other man pulling a gun, but I’m wondering if he didn’t speak English and thought Jay was harassing/threatening him.

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Miss Raven, hemming/hawing May 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I whole-heartedly agree with the Etiquette Maven’s take on Mr. Rodgers’ actions. However, I do not believe that there would be “no news to report” if Mr. Rodgers hadn’t been obnoxious/bordering on harrassment/self-serving.

A man who shoots another man in front of his family in a gas station parking lot in broad daylight, because said man is being a pest, is emotionally disturbed. This is a man on the verge of a breakdown, just waiting for the teeniest, tiniest straw to break the camel’s back. Pulling out a shotgun is the opposite of a normal response.

A normal response would be to apologize to get Mr. Rodgers to shut up, to tell him that he’s being obnoxious, to call the police, to call over the gas station manager, or to continue to ignore Mr. Rodgers and drive away (which is what I think most of us would have done.) I’m getting the strong feeling that if not Mr. Rodgers, this fellow would have up and blown someone else away, whether it was the next guy who cut him off in traffic or the cashier who told him his debit card was declined.

I mean, seriously. Can we all stop blaming the victim? Obnoxious or not, etiquette-challenged or not, 100% of the blame for this crime rests with the psycho and his shotgun.

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ilex May 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Wow. What possesses someone to follow a stranger to his car to make pointless demands? How was this spun as a guy being shot for having good manners? More like a super-obvious cautionary tale: Be careful who you harass in dark parking lots.

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Stephan May 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

If I were being followed from a store to my car by someone harassing me, I would certainly feel threatened and act accordingly. Not to tread on legal matters, but opening fire is an over-reaction to the level of threat (at least in my opinion).

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ashley May 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I never thought I’d hear about someone getting shot over etiquette…and now I think I’ve heard it all O.o Or I hope I have.

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ashley May 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

The shooter must of had some serious issues to shoot someone over a faux pas like that O.o

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Enna May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I agree with Admin and Grandma Dishes – getting shot is inexcusable and way over the top however by following the man Mr Rodgers could have scared him. What Mr Rodgers did was rude to expect a “thank you”. Another thing this reminds me of is when people demarnd an apology. Yes they may deserve an apology but demarnding one defeats the object – if someone has done something wrong surely it is best that they regret and say sorry in their own time then say it when they don’t mean it?

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LonelyHound May 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I fully agree with the Admin. Nothing justifies getting shot, but my first thought when reading through the story was that Jay was out of line.

I also agree with “Just Laura,” however I am going to turn her scenario around. Jay just came out of a concert and, anyone who has been to a concert knows your hearing is not the best afterward, especially if it was indoors. What if the man had mumbled thank you and Jay had just not heard it. That also seems to be a likely situation.

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phoenix May 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

It bothers me that this man is being held up as a paragon of good manners. He’s not, he’s a self-righteous man with a severe lack of common sense and self-preservation.

No, he didn’t deserve to be shot, but he is a fool not a hero.

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phoenix May 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I meant, being held up by the media. I agree wholeheartedly with this site on this one.

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Shay May 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I could not agree more with Admin on this one. I live in Atlanta and heard about it. I did not hear enough to know that he actually followed the guy outside to his car. Admin is right: anyone with true manners does not do kind things with the expectation of something in return. Not to mention. anyone that lives in an urban environment like Atlanta should know better than to follow anyone out to their car to argue over something so incredibly unimportant. He did not deserve to get shot but you have to be aware of the realities of a big city.

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Mike Johnson May 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I always view these types of “politeness” as been more of a pro quid pro than true manners. When one expects something in return for being polite than haven’t you really just turned it into a business deal? I’ll do something for you if you do something for me wrapped up in the guise of good manners. Much the same way that people that invite someone to a party expect to be invited to the invitees next party as pay back. Really no better than the host of stories on this site about Brides/Grooms expecting a gift that covers the price of the reception dinner received. Manners like love should be selfless with no expectation of payback.

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Amy May 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm

A couple of people have disagreed with a comment stating that allowing a stranger to hold a door for you can be dangerous. It is absolutely true; perhaps if you live in very safe areas you do not think that way, but I do. American Etiquette *is* the great equalizer, and it *shouldn’t* matter who is behind you, but those are ideals. The reality is that it is not always safe to assume that a stranger is holding a door for you just to be polite. Quite frankly, I try very hard not to be out alone at night. If I *have* to go out, then any time I pass a stranger, door-holding or not, I try to discreetly keep him or her in my peripheral vision. If a person holding a door looks scary and I don’t want to get too close I stop suddenly, smile, say “Oh, I forgot my ID!” and walk back to my car, while trying to subtly make sure I am not being followed. The possession of apparent manners in a door-holder does not necessarily equate to ‘kind and trustworthy’.

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Mulewagon May 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm

As a woman, I’ll say that if I were being followed into a dark parking lot by some weirdo “quietly” ordering me to do something, I would have my hand on my gun. Though if he were still 15-16 feet away when I got to the car, I would lock myself in and call the cops, while simultaneously starting the engine.

So I guess I’m saying this doesn’t strike me as an etiquette issue, but a strategy issue. The shooter, being a man, may not have had much experience with being stalked, and so didn’t have alternate strategies mapped out.

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jen a. May 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

@Robert (and the husbands of Chocobo and PhDeath)

I love hearing about men who are true gentlemen. Something tells me you wouldn’t chase someone down if they didn’t thank you. The story sounds really… strange. I can’t imagine someone chasing someone else to their car if they didn’t thank me for a small, relatively effortless gesture. I feel like there’s even more to the story than we’re hearing about. In any case, the reporter should have had more sense regarding his own personal safety.

@Hal
Is this what you’re afraid of?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3IJgYYPOaA

I’m sorry, but your post made me giggle a bit.

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Natty May 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I agree that Mr. Rodgers was in the wrong. He could have just held the door open and not say anything.

I used to hang out in a bar where there was this elderly guy who would always shout at you from across the bar if you didn’t say “Hi” to him. It got to be extremely annoying and as a result, not many people actually spoke to him.

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SV May 17, 2011 at 1:38 am

Like most of us who post on here, I am an extremely polite individual- I always say please and thank you to others. Not everyone does, though, and that is just a fact of life. I find it incredible that Mr. Rodgers did not simply go on with his evening after holding open the door and not being thanked. It doesn’t matter if the shooter was hard of hearing, did not speak English, or was just self involved. Why on earth would any rational minded person follow a stranger to their car, asking for a “thank you”? It’s absurd. Clearly he did not deserve to get shot for his actions but for an adult to feel they have the moral obligation to correct the manners of another adult is a rude act in itself. And for the press to hold this up as an example of good manners is laughable.

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Quiea May 17, 2011 at 4:05 am

I must say I agree with the Admin on this!

I definitely don’t justify the guy getting shot. However, as a female, I would have absolutely no problem pepper spraying the man if he followed me to my car, in the middle of the night, in a dark parking lot. I would then have no problem locking myself in my car and calling the Police. Better safe than sorry.

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--Lia May 17, 2011 at 6:04 am

We don’t even know that the shooting victim’s story is true. Imagine a situation where a criminal is shot while committing a burglary. He doesn’t tell the police about how he had broken into someone’s house. He makes something up about how he smelled smoke and was trying to put out a fire. This could be the same thing. All we know from evidence is that he was shot. If the story about trying to get a thank-you is false, it’s telling that the man made up that particular story to try to make himself look good. He might really think that’s what so-called polite people do all the time.

If the story about just trying to get a thank-you is true, the shooter way over-reacted. Feeling a little bit threatened is no reason to react with a gun. But now I’m looking at this in terms of not knowing what really happened. For all we know, the shooting victim could have said something truly horrible when he opened that door, and the shooter reacted appropriately.

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Sarah Jane May 17, 2011 at 7:07 am

The more I think about it, the more this story makes me want to chase down and follow to their cars all the brides who never sent me thank-you notes for their wedding gifts. :)

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Mary May 17, 2011 at 7:23 am

I have to say that my husband holds the door open for anyone, other men included. Most of the time, just so the door doesn’t slam in their face. It’s just common courtesy.

But I do agree that this man was totally in the wrong for trying to demand a thank you.

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Hollanda, UK May 17, 2011 at 8:31 am

I know how frustrating it is to hold the door open for one person and then the whole world and her aunt barges through and NOT ONE PERSON says “Thank you”. My DF does that and then says “You’re welcome” sarcastically as the person passes him. Ehell approved or not, it gets the point across and makes him feel better. :) LOL.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson May 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I’m having trouble understanding the big deal about who holds doors for whom. It just seems like common sense — you’ve grabbed the door handle and notice someone just behind you (or discover someone on the other side also reaching for the door handle,) you finish opening it, allow the other person to go through and get the heck out of your way, and go through. Beats jostling shoulder-to-shoulder through the door every time. And if you smile while you do it, they’ll think you’re showing good manners, not the self-interest it actually is. I do believe that 90% of good manners is just ways to make your day go more pleasantly — and they make you liked instead of detested, which is MUCH more pleasant!

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Wink-n-Smile May 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

The man stayed silent the whole time? It’s possible he was deaf/mute, although if he were, he would still have been able to sign his “thank you.” Of course, if his arms were full with his purchase, he couldn’t do more than nod. The article didn’t say if he nodded, and Mr. Rodgers thought that insufficient.

Now, if I were a deaf/mute, and some stranger was following me in the parking lot, especially at night, I’d be afraid he was going to accost me, and might just become defensive. I’m not saying this guy was right. I’m just offering this as a possible explanation. It’s even more likely if he were on certain drugs.

A deaf/mute man, with his hands full, and some paranoia going on in his head, finds himself followed to his car, at night, by a stranger who is obviously intent on getting something from him – might just panic.

Just sayin’.

I agree with admin. He should have just shrugged it off and left the man alone. There’s an old saying ‘Is this the hill you want to die on?” The man should have asked himself if it was really a battle worth fighting, because as it turned out, it could have been the “hill” he died on!

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