Monday, December 14, 2009

202 - Holding the door open

Great Britain has struck me as very, very British - it has totally lived up to the expectations of this Filipino-Chinese, Hong Konger, international student.

For example, it is true that it is habit to talk about the weather at any point of any conversation, and also, to ask each other how the other is doing thirty thousand times in a mere five days.  Tea is consumed very often, and they always make sure to wait until everybody has arrived, or has sat down, or has been served, before we begin to jab our forks into our food. All English mothers are fabulous cooks, all English fathers 'know people', and all English kids love to go out and party. Everybody loves fish and chips, sausages, potatoes, pies, pastries, roast beef, bacon, baked beans, beer, ale, and cider. Everyone knows how to make knitwear, bake cookies, garden, navigate through London via the Tube, and perform a variety of different regional English accents. English people are also very informative (and very proud to be informative) when it comes to cricket, rugby and soccer. (Not football, I write in American English.) Contrary to popular belief, though, Prince Charles, The Beatles, Gordon Brown, David Beckham, and Her Majesty, The Queen, aren't that much of a big deal in Britain - in fact, I don't think I've heard them come up in conversation once in the last three months.

One particular social rule in this country, that is lightyears beyond just 'taken for granted', is the natural obligation you have to hold the door open after you have ambled through the doorway. It is a very British thing, because throughout my time here at university, I've observed how the Italians, the Koreans and even the Caucasian Australians don't seem to possess this behavioral principle these English people have obviously spent thousands of years practicing, ever since the last Celt that entered the medieval tomb had to tactfully roll the giant circular stone back to its original position to seal the entrance.

Back in Hong Kong though, nobody expects the people of the cold-blooded public to hold the door out for others in schools, restaurants, or shopping malls. It's like only the hotels and five-star restaurants consider the hazard that is the automatically closing door. On a side note, do you think there are any insurance companies out there that sell door-slamming-into-you insurance? I think it would be a very marketable idea. I mean, with treatment for nosebleeds and stubbed toes being such cheap medical regimens to compensate, there's plenty of room to overcharge clients.

Sigh, I hate it now when people hold the door open. They are always getting in my way. Unless you're telekinetic, there is no way you can avoid obstructing the path on which I'm walking. I never hold the door open for anybody here because everyone else does it too much. Everyone slows down as they get to the door, demonstrating a continuous domino effect of stupidity from 7 in the morning until 10 at night because they're all so desperate to do a good Samaritan-deed. Oh, you held the door open for me! You're my hero! 

What about the door, huh? When does it get done a favor? Can't two sides of a door hinge be brought together anymore nowadays as they were intended to be?

I just open a door and walk through it quickly, and expect whoever's coming through behind me to think fast, walk quicker or slower, and adjust the movement of his/her arm extension. If they get slammed in the face, it's only because they have slow reactions - not my bad. *shrugs*


I also hate it when people don't say 'thank you' after you hold the door for them. And when people try to pull open a door that's meant to be pushed. If you choose to, posts #21 and #30 are there for your viewing.

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plentymorefishoutofwater said...

You've just made me realise what a great country this ius. Sorry, but on this occasion, I don't hate it too :-)

Douglas said...

In the US we're a bit schizophrenic about this. Doors could be held open... or not... one never knows. And no one thanks anyone. Well, except for waiters and restaurant hosts/hostesses.

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

Being in a wheelchair, I've learned to open doors for myself and don't expect anyone to keep it open if they're ahead of me.

So it ticks me off when someone runs to the door (and I mean this literally) to open it for me. If I'm barreling towards a door, you can assume I know what I'm doing (aka can open it myself).

While I always say 'thank you' to someone ahead of me holding the door for me to pass through, don't expect the same reaction if you run for the door, thinking I'm helpless without you.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

It's situation specific to me. In general, I don't like the pressure I feel to speed up and say 'thank you' to someone holding the door for me. On a date, though, I prefer it to being bashed in the face by the door or having to hold the door for the wimp (guy).
In this rude country, people don't tend to hold doors open for anyone.

tattytiara said...

That British legacy is still very alive on Canadian soil.

Anonymous said...

Dear J.J in L.A.,

It must be hell for you to live with that giant chip on your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

The photo in the blogpost of the man holding the door open is taken at the Park Street subway station on the Boston Common in Massachusetts -- a long way from London!