What Should I Teach My Daughter About Holding Doors Open?


In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to you, dear readers, for insight.

Holding a door open for someone presents so many opportunities for awkward social situations. Sometimes you hold a door for one person and suddenly a wave of people appears out of the ether, and then you have to stand there for an awkward moment, trying to decide whether to stay for two minutes or pass the duties off to someone else: that old woman with a cane maybe, or that guy in manpris; he looks useful.

The worst is that moment when you open a door, look back to see if anyone is behind you and then notice someone who is not quite close enough to hold it open for and not quite far enough away to let it close. I’ve been on both ends of this. The holder usually stands there, props the door open a little bit more and maybe smiles or checks his watch. The walker usually does a silly little jog-walk-half-smile, all the while thinking, “Just freaking let the door close already!”

I was at the mall with my daughter the other day and I found myself holding open the doors for her. It was reflex really. I’ve been holding doors open for people practically all my life. I don’t really care who it’s for — men, women, kids. It’s become a Pavlovian reaction to seeing a door: must. hold. open. Ding!

I know there are some people who actually don’t like doors held for them. I get the awkwardness of the jog-walk-half-smile. I hate being on any end of that special moment and try to avoid it as much as possible. But I just think it’s polite to help out a fellow pedestrian. And besides, it helps me bank some karma for all those times I flip people off while driving.

A friend of mine told me it was sexist to hold the door open for her, something about how she had arms and hands just like any man and could do it herself, thank you very much. Well, OK, but I also held open the door for the guy behind her, so I wasn’t sure what the big deal was.

Still, I was standing there at the mall with the door handle in my hand as my daughter slipped by, and I thought, “I’m the elderly person now. Shouldn’t she be opening doors for me?”

Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out.

Image by Lauri Apple.

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