The title of this blog sounds like a simple, almost silly question. And yet, I pose it today with some measure of serious thought, because if my experiences on Thursday morning are any indication, the simple act of holding open a door can be a lot more complicated than it seems.
Plus, I created diagrams to better explain my point. Prepare to be amazed by my advanced MS Paint skills!
I was walking to the train station from the parking garage at 7 in the morning, as usual. To get to the train statione, you have to pass through a long hallway broken up with three sets of double doors. These doors are spaced out just awkwardly enough to create the backdrop for my tale.
That is the hallway in question. The first two sets of doors are roughly two paces apart, while a long hallway stretches between the second and third door. Normally, this is just a mild inconvenience, having to stop and pull open each door to move on. But today? Today took a turn for the awkward.
Here, we have Mrs. Yellow holding the door open for me, Mr. Blue (it’s like you’re there with me). She holds the door open for me, I hurry through, and everything is fine.
Now, Mrs. Yellow is kind enough to hold the second door open for me, but I glance behind myself and see Mr. Red approach.
What do I do?
Do I hurry through the second door already held open for me by Mrs. Yellow? Or do I make her wait while I wait for Mr. Red? The first option requires me to practically slam my door in Mr. Red’s face, but the second option forces Mrs. Yellow to either wait patiently for Mr. Red, and then, myself, or to be rude and run off. What kind of gentleman puts a lady in such a situation?
I chose to wait for Mr. Red, because I am clearly not a gentleman and much preferred to shift the awkwardness towards Mrs. Yellow (I never said I was perfect). But, after that, surely the awkwardness has passed and we can all move on with our morning?
Oh, if only it were so simple.
Oh my goodness gracious! Another person has entered the scene, further complicating the door holding situation! Ms. Pink, here, is hurrying behind Mr. Red. I’m holding the second door open for Mr. Red, being as polite as can be, while Mrs. Yellow is on the move, all but running through the hallway (we’re in a train station—everyone is in a hurry). Since I already held the first door open for Mr. Red, it’s only polite to hold the second door. But thus, I find myself in the same situation I put Mrs. Yellow in! I’m holding the door for someone who is holding the door for someone else!
Ms. Pink has the decency to quicken her pace, but by this point, the damage is done.
You would think things would proceed more smoothly after that. How wrong you are.
And thus, we are backed up. Now spaced out, Mrs. Yellow has to wait for me to reach the door, and then I wait for Mr. Red, who in turn has to wait for Ms. Pink.
This seems like I’m taking something mundane and making it unnecessarily complicated. In all honesty, that’s because I am. Worst case scenario, we all are a few seconds behind while we hold the door for the person behind us. But, it’s in those seconds that enough awkwardness passes to make the brain (at least mine) second guess itself. Do I hold this door open for the person behind me? Do I move on? Is one action rude? Is another simply awkward? And which is which? Would this person hold the door open for me?
And so on.
I use this example because it is recent, but I feel like we find ourselves in situations such as these constantly in our daily lives. Little passing moments where we are monentarily unsure what to do with ourselves. Maybe some of us just know how best to handle such things, but for people like me, I am forever second guessing my actions.
It’s kind the thing that can drive a man batty.
Have you experienced anything like this before? What happened?