5/09/2005

Good manners, bad situations

Whenever you enter a cafe or a department store you first open the door and pass through, and then glance behind to see whether you should hold it open for the person right behind you. That person then grabs the door and holds it open for himself and as he passes through, glaces back, and so on. Outside the New York area, you may even hear a "thank-you." Civility triumphs. Life goes on.

But sometimes when you glance behind you, you spot somebody 50 feet back or so, and figure you might as well hold the door open for them. It's not their fault they're running a few seconds late. So you abruptly hault and stiff-arm the door open. But then you realize that the person for whom you're holding the door isn't moving very quickly. They're not double-timing it like they should. They're not showing hustle. In fact, they're taking their sweet-ass time. Apparently they've got all the time in the world. By your calculations you estimate you'll be holding the door for a long goddamn before they bother to show up. So you consider letting the door go and making a break for it. You don't have time for this inconsiderate prick to lollygag across the parking lot. But it's too late now. You've made eye-contact. You'd be in the clear if the person hadn't seen you holding the door. But if you abort mission after you've been seen, you'll be the incosiderate prick! Besides, a lifetime of etiquette has ingrained itself onto your brain and by sheer instinct you can't force yourself to run away. You're committed. By this time your arm is tiring. Passers-by are bumping and dodging you and probably thinking that you're some fool who can't take a hint and get out of their way. You start to feel like a real ass -- and all because you're a nice guy. The only thing left to do now is hope the inconsiderate prick you're waiting on gets runover by a an even bigger prick driving an SUV. That would get you out of the jam, because you're not obligated to render aid to a vehicular assault victim, just hold open doors for people behind you. No suck luck, though. Your guy makes it across the lot without a scratch. By now you want to let the door slam on him just as he attempts to pass, hopefully severing one of his appendages in the process. Or maybe just a sarcastic quip. "You're welcome. Shall I let the Cinnabuns know you're on your way and will be their sometime next year?" But you don't, because you're a nice guy. So you let the lame bastard roll his wheelchair right past you while you hold the door like a chump.

Fuckin' good manners! I hate having them.

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