March 12th, 2004

Paging Emily Post

What’s the correct procedure for double doors? I’m a big one for holding the door for people – I’m not going to wait for 5 minutes for someone to come along or anything, but if someone’s relatively close behind me, I’m good for a hold or two. There’s always the danger of getting sucked in and being there for several minutes, but it’s a risk I’m generally willing to take.

But double doors flummox me. I can hold one door for you, but how do I get to the second one ahead of you? If I’m walking with someone, some people will wait for me to get it for them, and I don’t mind that. I still kind of half-run to get it, but it’s nice that they recognize I want to hole the door open. If I don’t get to the second door and they open it themselves, what was the point of me getting the first one?

And if someone opens the first one in front of me and kind of hold it open behind them as they walk through, I generally say “thanks.” That’s as good as a full hold to me. But should I say “thanks” again if they do that for the second door, too? Is it implied that I’m thankful for both holds if I say thanks after the first one? If I don’t say “thanks” after the first one, they might view me as ungrateful and I might not get the second one.

It would seem to me that a good system is I’ll hold the first door open, you say “thanks.” Then you hold the second door open, and I’ll say “thanks.” But that defeats the whole purpose of holding the door open for someone, I think. If I want to be a gentleman and hold the door for a lady, I effectively end my gentleman-ness by expecting her to hold the next one for me.

While I’m on the subject, why is it that if you hold the door for a string of people, why is it that you get a “thanks” from roughly 15% of the passers-through? I don’t do it for the thanks, but when someone does give me one, it makes me wonder why the rest of them didn’t. Maybe they’re thinking “if he hadn’t held it, someone else would have, or I just would’ve gotten it.” Or maybe “he was already holding it when I got here, so it wasn’t for me, it was for that first person.” Either way, I try to thank people when they do it for me.

I just don’t want to overthank anybody, you know?

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