Sunday, December 18, 2016

To run or not to run.

I've been thinking about this for quite a while.

I am fascinated by the human interaction of holding the door for others. Undoubtedly, we've all been on both sides of this experience. You are approaching a door, lets say to your gym (this is where it most often happens to me) and someone is following you in. You open the door and hold it for them. More often than not, despite all the feminism, this is much more likely to be done by a man than a woman if there is more than a very short distance between them and yes, I have taken the trouble to count all the examples of this I came across excluding myself in a week and though I don't remember the numbers, it was overwhelming so.

Two things interest me about this. First what is the distance between the door opener and the follower which will result in someone holding the door open? If the opener is so inclined to hold it, he will only do so for someone within a distance he intuitively knows makes sense. I seriously doubt that most other people think about this like I do (let's face it, I'm a weirdo, but I do know one friend who has thought about it) but they are all making some calculation. What else other than distance is in it? The sex of the person following him in? Age differences? I don't know, but I'd like to. I really don't think there is that much individuality in it. People are either door holders or they are not. But, just looking at it anecdotally, I don't think there is that much difference between individual door holders. It's a small range that signals the hold.

The part that intrigues me is from the follower's point of view. Why do we - and I unhappily include myself - feel obligated to reluctantly break into a little jog when someone holds the door for me? Flipping it around for a second, when I hold the door for someone and they break into a jog, I feel guilty and usually make some under the breath comment like "Don't run," or "I'll wait." What's going on here? My solution is, the door opener goofed, miscalculated or misjudged what was an appropriate distance to hold the door. It results in dual discomfort. The follower is embarrassed and runs and the holder feels chagrined at having forced the person he was trying to serve to exert him or herself even more.

Another door holding norm also causes me embarrassment, though the reason for the behavior is kind of obvious. I hate it when, at a double set of doors, I hold the outer door open for someone and when we get inside, they (again, almost always a man) feel it necessary to hold the second one for me. It's nice and all that, but if I wanted to go first I would have.

The same effect happens with drivers and pedestrians. Drivers rarely run down pedestrians because they are too frustrated to wait longer for the walker to cross in front of their car. They probably would like to more but the consequences are too severe. Anyway, to the point, sometimes a driver waits for a person to cross the road who he/she could have safely passed in front of and the pedestrian feels obligated to break into a jog. Arguably, if they stop for you, they are doing so not to cause you grief. Still, I have broken into a jog myself on occasion, wishing they hadn't waited but just went first.

Now, some people might say - how is this possibly important enough even for you to write about, and maybe it's not. But, my mind has been thinking about politics for the last six months and it's a slow come back.


  1. I have come across the same circumstances.
    But you are slow i general!

    1. When you insult someone, check your spelling. Just saying.

  2. the only thing I know about holding doors is: if you are holding it waiting for someone to say thank you, you are holding it for the wrong reason.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .