August 21, 2006 1:32 PM
I like to hold doors open for people. It isn’t a men holding doors open for women thing, it’s a basic human politeness thing that I do for both men and women. You see doors are often heavy and no matter your gender, if someone lets one swing closed too close to you it breaks your stride as you have to either wait for it to swing shut or reach in to wrench it open while its momentum is working against you. My problem isn’t with people failing to open doors for me, it is instead with the people I open the doors for.
You see, like I said, doors are heavy, so once you open a door for someone, you are at their mercy. Either they can, as they should, take the door from you and continue in after you (holding it open for the next person in line behind them if necessary) or walk on through. If they choose to just walk on through, unless you want to potentially maim them by letting the door swing closed, literally, in their face, you have no choice but to keep holding the door. And if someone is behind them nine times out of ten they will simply follow through the door as well. I’ve literally been forced to stand holding a door open as a dozen people stride through, not all in one group, but all in a line with no gap large enough to let me safely let go of the door.1 I don’t really care about the people following. It is human nature to do whatever the person in front of you does, and I’m sure that I’ve done the same many times. But that first person should know better.
Today the woman who did it to me did something odd. As she passed through the door she lifted up her arm as if she was about to take the door from me, and then, just as her had was perpendicular to the door so that if I had let go it would have slammed painfully into her outstretched fingers, she dropped her hand back down. It was as if she knew that she should offer to take the door from me, but didn’t think for a moment that there was any possibility of me taking her up on that offer.
It is true that most often the people who do this to me are women, so possibly they are misinterpreting my actions as an old fashioned etiquette thing of gentlemen holding doors for ladies. Still, do you really think that I have nothing better to do with my time than stand there all day holding the door open? Like before, the thing that really bothers me is that there is no consciousness of behaving badly. I’d feel much better about it if the person just barged through with a “hey, you gave me the window, I’m taking it” attitude.
1 Incidentally I’m almost always carrying something when this happens.