Monday, November 17, 2008

21 - Too little or too much gratitude for someone holding the door

So, of course, when I hold the door out for someone, I like to be thanked for it. I think I recognize when people hold it out for me, but I can't really remember. I trust that I do because people had accused me of being impolite before. Since then, saying 'please', 'thank you' and 'excuse me' has become quite instinctive for me, and it's like more of a reflex now. I benefit from an act of kindness and bam: 'thank you'. Someone thanks me and boom: 'you're welcome'. Oops, 'sorry'.

When I'm out walking around and there so happens to be a door that I can hold for a stranger behind me leaving or entering, I'll hold it for them because I can and why not? In Hong Kong, there's a general lack of common courtesy, and in my experience, people don't say thank you when you hold the door for their benefit. I didn't have to hold it out for anyone, so people could at least acknowledge the fact that I took two to five seconds out of my life saving them the time and energy they need to open the damn door themselves.

Ugh. So that's underappreciation. On the other end of the spectrum, there's also overappreciation. I took a tour of a university this summer in Canada, and our tour had around twenty people, with me consistently at the front of the pack insightfully asking the tour guide questions. Although, as we were moving around, every few minutes or so we would come to a door that needed to be opened. In total, we must've gone through close to fifty doors and me, being polite, being expected to be gentlemanly, I held the door almost every chance I could, but I actually got annoyed at hearing 'thank you' too many times, from nineteen other people, going through fifty doors. It's just a door for Christ's sake. Sssshhhh....

I guess after having lived in Hong Kong for most of my life, I'm used to the cold and bitter silence that follows my every warm, kind act. I prefer the politeness, but um, I don't really know what to think about too many people being grateful too many times.

11 comments:

J.J. in L.A. said...

While I appreciate (and thank) the person for opening a door for me, what burns my butt is when they goes out of their way to do so - as if they don't think I can do it myself.

I had a guy actually run about 20 feet to open a door for me. I knew it was because I'm in a wheelchair. I would rather someone give me the benefit of the doubt than run a marathon to get to the door first.

Douglas said...

Sometimes, when I hold a door open for someone who does not acknowledge that simple act of kindness, I say "You're welcome" loud enough for them to hear. That's spiteful, I know. Because we really hold the door open for our own sake, not theirs.

Douglas said...

J.J., there's a fine line between kindness and condescension. You are probably better at knowing which side of the line someone is on than I would be.

Carrie Amie said...

I have had similar experiences. I always hold the door open for people... but what gets me are those people that just push right by you and end up stepping on your foot or bumping into you and not doing anything about. Don't ever stop being polite... kill them with kindness :)

J.J. in L.A. said...

Douglas, you're right! I can tell the difference between someone who truly wants to be helpful, and someone who doesn't think I can manage it myself. Sometimes they're not even subtle about it.

Michael said...

J.J,

"what burns my butt" and "run a marathon to get to the door" in this context were highly amusing and effective. Truly a mark of a good commenter.

And yes, subtlety is something I've been wanting to blog about lately. Trying to be helpful to a person that's probably used to it already is very unnecessary.

--------------------

Douglas,

Until recent days, I was always quite the verbally expressive misanthrope. Now I have a blog.

Michael.

Michael said...

Carrie Amie,

To kill them with kindness is a little extreme, but awesome.

Michael.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

I usually comment, non-too subtly, that ignorance can be a virtue...

LOL

AV
http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/
http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/

Michael said...

AV,

I agree. But...

...ignorance, of others and ourselves, can only be 'bliss' if we deem our/others' ignorance to be beneficial (or simply not harmful) to us or to others.

Michael.

Tatum Reid said...

OMW,I cant believe the amount of comments on this post lol
I usually go out of my way to thank people if the hold the door for me. The strange thing is..it makes ME feel good about myself..proud almost? does that make sense or is it vanity?

Christine said...

I am a door holder, and I have noticed that the common courtesy is very regional - unfortunately.

Loved your post ... thank you!