(originally posted 6-29-12 on The Post Apoc)
My parents raised me to hold doors open when there are people behind me – it’s common courtesy. At this point in my life, I do it out of habit. Here in Oklahoma, however, we have courtesy battles. A courtesy battle occurs when two people are trying to out-polite one another, and a potentially polite moment ends up a clusterfuck of awkwardness and resentment.
Often, when I try to hold the door, the person I’m holding the door for will see me, then sigh and half-jog up to the door. Instantly, my act of courtesy has become a pain in the ass because they feel like they have to hurry. Why? Are you afraid I’ll get frustrated if you take too long? Are you worried I’ll give up before you get to me and let the door close in your face? Look, asshole, I saw how far back you were and how fast you were moving – based on these factors, I ran an equation in my brain as to whether or not I wanted to hold the door for you. You passed, so I’ve already calculated how long it’ll take you to get to me, and I’M OKAY WITH IT! It’s not like I just held the door, THEN looked back and thought, “Aw, damnit. They’re taking way too long. I’m gonna hold this door for ten more seconds, and if they’re not here by then, I’m cutting my losses!”
When you start half-jogging up to me, I suddenly feel like I’ve inconvenienced you, and THAT makes me want to just let go of the damn door and let you run right through the plate glass. Accept the fact that I’m doing a favor and just keep walking at your regular pace. If you want to let me know that you appreciate it, look up, smile, nod, and maybe say “Thanks!”… but even if you do NONE of those things, I’ve already committed to the act -and honestly, your reaction to it isn’t going to make or break me.