Mornings are my favorite time of day. But just to be clear, when I say “mornings,” I mean the hour I have to myself to lay in bed, drink coffee, eat eggs and unabashedly watch Broad City. Everything after that doesn’t count as “morning.” It’s just “day” to me. And throughout the day, there is one unavoidable social exchange that I despise more than parking garage elevator rides (for context, parking garage elevator rides usually consist of me accidentally forgetting to turn off my Pandora blasting Matt Bomer serenading the strangers around me with not-so-ambiguous questions like “How Does It Feel.” These are the longest 14 seconds of my day).
But alas, there is something worse to follow.
I know it seems like I overanalyze everything, and that’s almost definitely true. Most social interactions do not have to be nearly as awkward as I make them. However, there is one daily occurrence that I am sure is a universal struggle and that, my friends, is the unpredictable drudgery of door-holding. This epic assessment of human awkwardness is most prevalent at the end of long hallways…or parking garages…or literally anywhere with doors.
How long do you wait for the person behind you to catch up before letting the door close and walking off? If you wait too long, said person has to do that classy skip-sprint dance number to the door so you don’t have to uncomfortably stand there for what feels like hours. On the other hand, if you let the door fall without waiting at all, you’re just a criminal – especially if you subtly shoot an instinctive glance behind you to justify your decision. All of us walking behind you saw you briefly turn around; we know you saw us.
And if you’re the one behind, do you keep saying “thank you” as the person in front of you holds open four consecutive doors? Why does every building in Dallas have so many doors anyway? No one needs that much privacy or security. “Thank you. Thank you. Ha, thank you. Oh…thank you.” You sound like an indebted broken record. And what if they’re the kind of OCD person who has to verbally acknowledge your thankfulness:
Door #1: “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” Door #2: “Thanks.” “Welcome.” Door #3: “Oh, thank you.” “No problem.” Door #4: “Wow, so many damn doors, thank you.” “Finally, we’ve made it to the Promised Land. You’re welcome.”
It’s annoying to imagine either of these scenarios, but you also can’t just walk through without expressing gratitude. According to Emily Post, that would be discourteous. So you must decide: would you rather be awkward or rude? If you’re like me, it’s not a decision per se. It’s more of a way of life. Awkwardness is an art I’ve long perfected. So it may be in your best social interest to simply be rude and remain thankyou-less – unless I’m the one holding the door, in which case you’d better sincerely thank me and tip me for each door.
Also, as a woman, I’m not sure exactly what the protocol is anyway. I hate to think I would just expect a man to hold the door open for me every time I approach a doorway, but when I end up holding the door open for a man, I nonetheless silently curse him and his family as he apathetically slithers through the door I so graciously held for him. But, like… I’m a feminist. In conclusion, doorways really distort all my beliefs and I am once again left questioning my identity. I don’t lose much sleep over this, though. Door-holding is like Manhattan real estate – there are no rules.
There’s no getting around this phenomenon since most establishments have – in more or less patronizing tones – laughed off my suggestion to use a row of those really cool, floor-length beads instead of actual doors (you’ll be sorry one day when those come back in style. You’ll all be sorry). I guess we’re stuck holding doors open and accepting doors being held open for us. So the next time you proudly stride through an automatic doorway at Target, think of how lucky you are that you have me to remind you of these things.