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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are we Still Holding Doors For People?

Ok, here's a weird problem:

I think of myself as a pretty polite guy. As a polite guy, I tend to hold the door open for people when I walk through. If someone is right behind me, this is no problem because I just hold it open an extra second and then they hold it.

However, there are three door holding open scenarios that vex me:

1) What do you do if the person isn't right behind you?

They are a few steps away. Then that stupid mathematical/geometric calculation debate starts in your head, "hmm, if I let go of this door they may reach it while it still closing, which would be rude. However, based on their current land speed I could be standing here like an idiot for 5 or 6 seconds (longer than it sounds, when you're standing there like an idiot) while they get here." And sometimes the person doesn't go through the door or worse, stops a few feet away. Then you really look stupid.

2) What do you do if you open the door and let someone go in before you as you walk into a place with a line?

For example, you arrive at the door to a restaurant a few scant seconds before someone else. Being polite, you open the door for them and they walk through first. Since they went in first they talk to the host/hostess first, and they get sat first. In a busy restaurant, this could mean the difference of 10-30 minutes, all because you were polite. Ideally, the person you let go before you should acknowledge your politeness but will they always? I think not. There should be a law about this.

3) What do you do if you hold the door for someone and they don't thank you?

This one is obvious and frustrating all at the same time. If I do something polite for someone like hold the door, how do they not give a simple polite "thank you" in return. What's up with that?! How do these people exist in the world? I think if I hold the door open for someone and they don't say thank you, it should be socially acceptable for me to run ahead of them, go through the next door they encounter, and then slam it in their face right as they get to it. I mean, fair is fair, right?

In this day and age, I think we need to re-look at the whole "door holding open" thing (yes, this discussion should trump the economy and environment). Modern doors are light enough that most anyone can comfortably hold them open. And it seems people just don't appreciate it anymore. If someone is directly behind you, sure. And of course, when you are with people you know, I think it still works. But in all other cases, I say, "bah, let 'em deal with the door themselves!"

Sadly, we live in a world where I do not set the etiquette rules (wow, could you imagine that dystopia!?) So I will continue holding doors for people, losing my place in line, and occasionally looking like an idiot, until Emily Post tells me different.

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