As I was leaving the Pickering Town Centre the other day, I came to notice a couple, I am guessing in their late 70’s, also heading toward the exit. They both had white hair, and looked quite peaceful. The lady, who I am assuming was the man’s wife, was in a wheelchair. He was pushing her casually toward the exits doors.
I was walking up directly beside them, about 6 feet to their right, also heading toward the exit doors. In my mind, I was thinking, okay, start directing the wheelchair slightly right, towards the door I am heading straight for, so I can open the door and hold it for you. I started picking up my pace to prepare the door for them.
To my surprise and disappointment, I looked back as I opened the door, the man had not directed the wheelchair toward my door, and continued straight ahead. Instead of trusting that a complete stranger would hold the door for him, he opted stop the wheelchair, and walk ahead to push the automatic button for the door. He then proceeded with pushing his wife through the exit door.
I didn’t have time to stop and ponder why I was so distraught by this, as there was a 2nd set of exit doors 8 feet beyond the 1st ones. I was determined I would allow this couple to experience courtesy from another human being. I quickly burst through the 1st set of doors, and sprinted to my left to ensure I had the 2nd set of doors open in time for them to exit.
The man was extremely grateful, and appeared somewhat surprised by my actions, he proceeded to say “Thank you, I appreciate it.” , I said “you’re welcome”. I watched them peacefully cross the lane way.
As I pondered back, I was trying to understand why:
A) He appeared not to trust I would have held the door for them
B) Why did he appear surprised by my actions?
Among the many meanings that can be given to these observations, I have come to 1 determination. Based on past experiences, they had more reason to doubt that I would act as I did, oppose to trusting that I would act as I did. Could there be further bias into this? Sure there could. My youth, my gender, or even my ethnicity could have influenced their decision.
This experienced sparked me to observe how courteous people are when it comes to holding the door for strangers. I did this to gain more reference points that either supported the meaning I gave to this experience, or dispute it.
After keenly observing this for weeks, it is appalling how many people won’t pause to hold the door for a stranger, unless that stranger is immediately behind them. Very few people will go the extra mile to hold the door, and wait 5-10 seconds until the stranger behind them arrives. It is sad, and frustrating, to witness how self-absorbed so many people are.
Is this new? I am young in today’s standards, at 31 years old, has it always been this bad? Have people always lacked this much courtesy? Or are we living in a time where self-absorption and self-entitlement is the new trend?
This observation helps explain why the elderly couple did not have the faith in me to hold the door for them.
I challenge you to observe the door holding patterns where you live for 2 weeks. I challenge you to go the extra mile, hold the door for a stranger that is well behind you, and wait 5-10 sec for them. Observe the reactions you receive.
It would be interesting to hear about the different experiences people have with this.
Share your personal experiences with everyone below in the comment section!