Soapbox: The Etiquette of Doors

 
 

Holding the door open as a common courtesy is dead, writes Dónal Ó Catháin

While buzzing around campus, one unwittingly engages in this uncertain phenomenon countless times par jour. There’s no choice in the matter, it cannot be evaded. It’s the oh-so controversial topic of holding doors open.

Every time you enter or leave any location surrounded by four walls, this process must be engaged with. It is most pronounced at the choke points of massive buildings where there is a constant stream of go-getters blasting through these arches.

To them, doors are a hindrance that succeeds in slowing them down. As such you are unlikely to experience the good grace from these high-flyers to slow down their day, even by a matter of seconds, to help make yours better.

Humans are fundamentally egocentric individuals. It serves us best to look after our own individual needs and pass through doors as quickly as possible, striding confidently at a lightning-quick pace.

It takes a more environmentally-aware, caring, humanitarian person to think to themselves, “Hey, I’ve just passed through this door, other people will be passing through this door, why don’t I speculatively keep this door open for a few extra milliseconds and see if some lucky individual will succeed in getting through as well without being smacked in the face by glass and wood.”

Encountering this lovely niceness is fairly hit and miss in the Newman building. One would think Arts students would be more compassionate than most, studying of the HUMANities and all. That aside, they will more than likely have to get used to moving in lines in close proximity to others later in life anyway.

Perhaps people are unsure how to react to this situation exactly, so are actually trying to be nice in not unloading this social burden on to the recipients of door-holding, who have no choice in the matter. However, what happens when passing through two sets of doors, one after the other, as is common around campus?

Does one give thanks both times? Does doing so render the second acknowledgment somewhat banal and less meaningful than its predecessor? Does one omit the first thanks? Utilising the latter option means one runs the risk of making the door-holder-opener form the impression of them as a self-important pretentious so and so, who expects to have doors held open for them.

It’s hard to know how exactly to handle this matter, but here’s a rule we could all try: everybody must hold the door open for the next person who passes through without exception. This creates some hilarity when someone who is several metres from the door realises your kindness and thus elicts the urgent half-jog towards the door as a result.

The moral of this story is that you should always hold doors open. Jim Morrison did once and he ended up writing a bucketload of songs about holding the door open for people. No, really, you know ‘Hello, I Love You’? It’s actually about doors. Listen closer.

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