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In the south, approach doors with caution! (1 Viewer)

StephenP2003

Senior Member
On the way home from work one afternoon, I stopped at Wal-Mart for some delicious, cheap chicken fingers. I entered from a non-automatic side door, and as I opened the door, an old woman slowly approached from behind. Upon entering, she was still six feet behind me.

I walked in the Wal-Mart, letting the door close, making the quick decision not to wait another ten seconds to hold the door for the woman. Hey, I was hungry and in a hurry to fuel up with about 90 grams of fat and an immeasurable amount of calories.

I left the door at the hands of nature and engineering, assuming it would close slowly enough to ease into the old woman's hands as she came upon the entrance. From behind, I hear the faint sound of the door. KAPLACK! It slammed.

I continued on my journey for poultry, ignoring the pathetically engineered door spring. I succeeded and paid, heading for the exit. That’s when the old woman confronted me about my unchivalrous act.

"You let that door SLAM in my face, young man!" she snarled.

I stood in front of the ballsy witch for about six seconds, letting the smell of hot, crispy batter enter my nostrils to tell my brain that if my body didn't get food within the next minute, there'd be major heck to pay, and god forbid anyone have to pay any heck. What could I say to expedite my trip to chicken heaven?

"Actually, I let the door slam AWAY from you. It opens outward." I walked away.

I wasn't in a good mood that day, as opposed to other days where I simply don't like people. Should I have held the door open for the woman? Yes, the rules of southern hospitality and the effect they have on my conscience require that I do... but should this woman have expected it and gotten so worked up over being denied her privilege as a southerner? No. Should not there be rules, guidelines, exceptions that force people to grab a door handle themselves every once in a while?

If you encounter a door that opens away from you, I believe there's about an eight-foot buffer in which you must hold that door for all approaching persons within that distance. If there's a chance that a door might slam in a person's face upon their arrival, it's your job, as the one responsible for the door being open, to make sure that doesn't happen. It’s rude not to hold the door for someone with a cart full of groceries and under-clothed, shoeless children (Yeah, welcome to Wal-Mart).

If you are headed for a door that opens toward you, with a person trailing no more than four feet behind you, it's courteous to pull the door open, letting the person behind you enter first. If it's a group or a small steady stream of people, there's a big gamble at stake. Do you let them all enter as you hold the door, hoping that someone will take over your quixotism along the way, or do you simply enter at will, letting them all fend for themselves? I choose the latter, simply because I value my punctual ways. However, if you do choose to hold the door, it’s acceptable to let go at any moment, but please let it go on someone who isn’t holding coffee. That totally sucks.

I was accosted by an old lady who didn't know the rules. That, everyone, is why I hate doors.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
sorry, but i can't let you get away with that self-excusing argument... courtesy is courtesy, and respect for elders should have been instilled in you from birth [i'm 67, so have the right to nag]...

as to the piece itself, it's not really funny, if that's what you were aiming for... and it's too insulting to many, too self-approving and don't-give-a-bleep to interest me, aside from the subject matter...

the title is kinda silly, imo, since walmarts are all over the us [and the world], as are old folks...

technically, it's more or less ok...

love and hugs [anyway! ;-) ], maia
 

StephenP2003

Senior Member
Yeah, I figure I'll get a lot of scolding from the older crowd. It was published in a college paper, so I suppose I shouldn't have posted it here, as it's not even close to my target audience.

The bit about the South, I added because so many people tell me that the courtesy is just not the same in other parts of the country, where opening doors and pulling out chairs is just regarded as creepy and unexpected.

Sorry if it offended ya.
 
M

miyakeke

Being part of your intended audience, I was quite entertained by the story. Since Maia shared her opinions I thought I might as well. I dare not think what she would think of my girlfriend's experience with the elderly: She once errupted with highly audible complaints which she mercilessly threw at an elderly handicapped woman that was being excessively rude to a cashier. In such a situation, I deem that neither my beloved or the rude woman were in the right. Does a handicap condone bypassing morality and etiquette? I'd like to think that we are all subject to the same social norms and mores.

Personally, I have no problem waiting an extra ten seconds for someone, young or old, male or female, to pass through before me. However, it is a courtesy I choose to extend, not an obligation. One that expects to be engaged in the art of etiquette is in no position to be "snarling" and treating others on a subhuman level. Though it may seem like an unfortunate amendment to culture, it may be argued that door opening for the elderly is not a socially expected action anymore.

The essay itself kept me entertained and I easily related to it. (I have to admit, however, your retort was quite cruel :() Gripe: Is this about the woman or your delicious chicken, eh?
 
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StephenP2003

Senior Member
I have no problem waiting to hold a door for another person, and under any other circumstances, I would've maintained my southern chivalry and held it open. My beef is with her reaction to such a small mishap.
 

Selorian

Patron
Being originally from the south as well, I know what you mean by the southern manners. It is something instilled in me, and I act on it most of the time. Holding doors, carrying bags, and other such things is all common.

I think the reaction by the lady was a bit much, personally. Even though I do all those things normally and willingly, it makes me mad when people think it is expected. Age isn't a right to nag and be bitter, no more than youth is a right to be rude and unthoughtful. If anything, older people should set an example for those younger. Being 34, I even include myself in that now.

Even though I do have that southern gentleman thing happening, I give respect where respect is given. It is something earned, not handed out freely, no matter age, sex, religion, nationality, or any other supposed criteria.

As for the piece, not too bad.
 

CZ

Senior Member
My mom was from Louisiana and I've spent a fair amount of time in the Baton Rouge/NO area, although I live in the San Francisco area. I actually think I've seen more door-holding here than I ever did down there.

I think your piece is a good start but there's a lot you put in there that could be developed more fully, i.e.

"Respect for your elders" - where does it begin and end? Consider also that there are a lot of able-bodied folks out there who might even take offense at being thought of as frail - my dad is a spry 65 year old who continues to work in retirement and build boats, for instance.

How much leeway does this "elderly respect" give a person? Is it socially acceptable, or not so much now?

An underlying theme you had throughout the work was lack of time, lack of patience... I wonder if that isn't one of the fundamental clashes between old and young.

I like the piece and identify with it to some extent - you could probably revise it to not come across quite so strongly (toning down the "I just want food dammit" part maybe) - but apart from that it's a nice, candid piece. I wonder if you've gotten any flak from it? ;)
 

StephenP2003

Senior Member
CZ said:
My mom was from Louisiana and I've spent a fair amount of time in the Baton Rouge/NO area, although I live in the San Francisco area. I actually think I've seen more door-holding here than I ever did down there.

I think your piece is a good start but there's a lot you put in there that could be developed more fully, i.e.

"Respect for your elders" - where does it begin and end? Consider also that there are a lot of able-bodied folks out there who might even take offense at being thought of as frail - my dad is a spry 65 year old who continues to work in retirement and build boats, for instance.

How much leeway does this "elderly respect" give a person? Is it socially acceptable, or not so much now?

An underlying theme you had throughout the work was lack of time, lack of patience... I wonder if that isn't one of the fundamental clashes between old and young.

I like the piece and identify with it to some extent - you could probably revise it to not come across quite so strongly (toning down the "I just want food dammit" part maybe) - but apart from that it's a nice, candid piece. I wonder if you've gotten any flak from it? ;)


I really haven't gotten any flak from anyone besides Maia, but she was also the first person above 25 to read it.

You're right about it needing a lot of development. This is actually a big issue, and had it not been for space issues in the paper, I could have added so many things. I might rework this piece for elsewhere, going more in depth, and most of all, broadening my audience. It's arrogant and self-approving, like Maia said, but if I toned down the harshness and focused on the whole idea behind respecting elders, it won't be as entertaining for the young'ns, but it'll have more substance.
 
I think I'm the ONLY living creature south of the Broward county line that still holds doors for people.

In Miami, chivalry is not only dead (and long decayed) but is viewed as eccentric and slightly disturbing.

Older folks still thank me, but anyone below 40, male or female, acts if I'm going to prod their ass on the way out, or stab them.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
flak aside, the woman's verbal attack was equally uncalled for... neither being young nor being old are justifiable excuse for incivility and rude behavior... feel better now? ;-)
 

ebmadman

Senior Member
Hey, I liked the story and felt the issue hit home on both sides of the fence. I am a human doormat by choice, willing to let some of the most discourteous of acts fall by the wayside without a mere utterance, but the one thing that ticks me off is people who act like they are entitled, for whatever reason. I'm all for respecting the elderly, an act which I practice with frequency, but dammit if I ever get so much as a thank you for my efforts. And i'm from the south, where hospitality is supposed to reign. But hey, what can you do? Guess I'll just keep holding doors open, since i was raised with manners,
 
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