The Dreaded Door Dilemma
By Rob Cottignies
I’m walking into a store. The store doesn’t have automatic doors. I pull the door open and slide my being through the doorway. For some reason, I glance behind. Some guy is walking toward the store’s entrance. He’s 25-30 feet away. What should I do now? My goal was to enter the store, which I’ve pretty much already done. Time to move onto Phase 2, right? Time to buy new pants and a flashlight, right!? I don’t know. There’s no need to hold the door for this guy. He presumably drove himself here. He’s walking upright. He has both arms and they seem to function just fine. Surely he’s capable of opening this door for himself, just as I have. It’s not a heavy door. And I’m certainly not going to open it FOR him, allowing him to pass me. What if he wants the same pants and flashlight as me? So now I’m here, half in a doorway, holding this door open with my body bent in some strange way that bodies were not meant to bend. My arm hurts. This door is getting heavy. I still have time to let it go and walk in. What could happen? A stranger thinks I’m rude? Or maybe he goes so far as to say something. “Sorry,” I’d say, not mean, and be done with it. Finally, he reaches the door, sees me struggling, then turns left toward the pet store. No appreciation and no result from my effort. This time was truly wasted. Or, worse yet, he goes into the store and thanks me. ‘You’re welcome.’ What a stupid phrase. And welcome into what? It’s not my store. Doesn’t some employee get paid to welcome people into the store? This is not my concern.
Anyway, stop laughing at me. You’ve been in this predicament and you know how horrible it is.
So what’s the solution? Is there proper etiquette for this common situation?
Normally, I’d say flinging the door open and walking in like The King without further touching said door would be the answer. This way you were never holding the door, even for yourself. And if you don’t look behind, how could you know someone was there?
But of course you know when someone is there. The actions to be taken are directly relevant to the person’s distance to the door and the person him- or herself.
Firstly, if the person is more than 35 feet (10.7 metres, Brits) from you, absolutely do not consider holding the door. Use your eyes to judge and give or take fifteen feet. But only take the fifteen. You owe this person nothing. And maybe you have a nice butt, so this person should be grateful for the opportunity to see it in action.
If the person is less than this distance from you…
…and is disabled (physically or mentally), hold the door and step to the side, allowing them to pass. I think this is a given. If the person is obscenely ancient and near-blind, do the same because they might think you work for the store and give you a sweet, wrinkled dollar.
If it’s a woman with children, walk in like The King and let the door close behind you. Don’t start helping her kids. They need to learn for themselves. And odds are the kids will be unruly so she won’t have time to scold you if she doesn’t understand your superior parenting skills.
If it’s a woman with a baby in a stroller- ugh, hold the door. It’ll be awkward but watching the mess of her trying to enter the store backwards while preventing the door from crushing her spawn is worse.
If it’s a store employee, stand aside and wait for him to open the door for you. The money you spend will go toward his minimum wage. He should not only hold the door open, but thank you as you enter like The King.
The only situation left completely up to your discretion is if you fancy the person walking toward the store. I’m a gentleman; I enjoy ladies; but there’s no way I’m making my new pants and flashlight wait for me longer than they already have. She’ll probably continue thinking that chivalry is dead. However, she is woman and I’d like to hear her roar (not like that, even if she is lovely). Open that door for yourself! Prove that you don’t need me! You’re welcome. Besides, what’s really going to happen? I’ll hold the door and she’ll declare love? This is New Jersey. I’d get a snotty look and a meaningless verbal display of gratitude.
NOW, what if someone is holding the door for you? Oh God. I’d rather be skinned. If I see someone about to enter a store thirty feet in front of me, I stop to check my phone or do some other inane activity until the person is fully inside. There’s no way I’m witnessing that pathetic smile as someone tries to be nice holding the door for me. And then I’d be expected to thank this person! ‘Gee, thanks for doing something I can easily do for myself. Tie my shoes or make me dinner and I’ll thank you.’
Wait, I can do those things easily too. Just leave me alone. Thanks.