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Door holding etiquette
September 21, 2004 10:49 AM   Subscribe

How far behind you does a person have to be in order for you to safely not hold the door for them, and not be considered rude?
posted by adampsyche to Human Relations (23 answers total)
 
eight feet.

unless she's attractive. then it's 16 feet (and you tip your hat).
posted by Stynxno at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2004


I use as a rule whether or not the door would fully close on its own before they got there. That's a judgment call based on your knowledge of the door and the pace of the person, of course, but it's a good rule of thumb from an etiquette standpoint.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2004


Me too, jacquilynne. If I'm not in anyone's way, I will wait longer for the elderly, and people with boxes/strollers/sarcophagi/other large inventory items.
posted by vorfeed at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2004


Another consideration is that it's easier to open a closed door (which is at rest) than a closing one (which is in opposing motion). So if they're not going to make it in time, you should just let it close, instead of giving it a little push to hold it open longer.
posted by smackfu at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2004


eight feet.

Yup. Spot on. And I don't care if she's attractive. Unless she's yelling to do me, I'll walk away after 8 feet. Not worth my time.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:26 AM on September 21, 2004


Unless you're in a rush, just stand there a little while and hold it open. I've often ended up with so much extra time, I'll stand there fore like 30 seconds and hold the door open. It's not like I had anything exciting to do anyways.

Man, rules like this are just so...

...irrelevant? :-D
posted by shepd at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2004


does the door swing in or out (toward the person or away)? are there lots of pedestrians headed toward that door? am i carrying something heavy? is the person behind me?

thankfully, my buildings (office and home) have revolving doors (in which case, it's rude to try to push the door faster than the person who's already in it is pushing it).
posted by crush-onastick at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2004


Shameless self-linked blog entry about the intricacies of this social custom.
posted by tippiedog at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2004


Ok, here's my other consideration. Let's say that they are just outside the Green Zone, from which you would open the door, but you decide to anyhow. These people suddenly feel a need to walk faster out of courtesy to you. I guess I feel bad for guilting someone into walking faster.
posted by adampsyche at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2004


What jacquilynne said. Also agreed with vorfeed that I'll stretch the distance if someone is carrying lots of packages or otherwise looks as if they will need help with the door.

If you're not certain whether you should, then do it. People always appreciate the courtesy even if they felt they had to walk faster - its a light human touch in a large sea of anonymous interactions.
posted by vacapinta at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2004


Also what jacquilynne/vorfeed said. That's exactly the rule I use.

And adam, the same here. When I misjudge and I'm standing there forever and they have to quicken up, I definitely feel guilty. Likewise, I feel guilty if I misjudge in the other direction -- if I let it swing, and then you make it. It's a delicate system.

Semi-related: I hate when individual cars stop for me when I'm crossing the street. If it is a long line of cars and you hold the line for me, you are a saint. But if it's just you, you probably ought to have kept going -- I can't very well step out in front of your car until it's almost fully stopped, so you have to wait for me to cross and I have to wait for you to slow down. If you'd proceeded at your prior speed, you would have been past me by the time I stepped off the curb and I would have been free to cross at leisure.
posted by rafter at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2004 [1 favorite]


I have actually had women snap at me -- “I can get the door myself!” -- for holding the door for them when they (incorrectly) thought I was being chivalrous. So I don’t hold the door if it wouldn’t be downright rude not to, basically according to jacquilynne's rule.
posted by nixxon at 12:58 PM on September 21, 2004


There's also a safety issue there which you're not taking into account, rafter. If I'm driving along and see someone looking like they're about to cross the street, I'll often (depending on the exact situation) let them cross in front of me--not as a time saver, which as you correctly note it may not be, but in the interest of avoiding an accident, given a small but nonzero chance that if I keep going, they'll absentmindedly step out right in front of me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:58 PM on September 21, 2004


I guess I'm evil. Sometimes I open the door when the person is an inappropriately long distance behind me, and stand there grinning, just to make them break into a jog.

Heh.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:10 PM on September 21, 2004


I say 8-12 feet, but if it's a friend or a boss, an infinite amount of space.
posted by amberglow at 1:27 PM on September 21, 2004


or someone hot.
posted by amberglow at 1:27 PM on September 21, 2004


What jacquilynne said. Also agreed with vorfeed that I'll stretch the distance if someone is carrying lots of packages or otherwise looks as if they will need help with the door.

If you're not certain whether you should, then do it. People always appreciate the courtesy even if they felt they had to walk faster - its a light human touch in a large sea of anonymous interactions.


Incorrect. I represent an exception to your rule. I don't appreciate that at all.

I'm also frequently carriying large, heavy things and find that most people who want to hold the door for me aren't able to do that without getting in my way. If they would just move along, I'd be fine. Instead, I have to either politely ask them to please move on or risk clocking them as I move past them.

And for cars that stop inappropriately to let me pass, I will turn around and pretend I'm not going to cross until they move along.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2004


ursus, if inconvenient or cack-handed courtesy is as bad as your world gets, you're winning dude.

Another vote for the door-close/person-arrival method, except when it would prove awkward ... unless she/he is really pretty, in which case I think - fuck 'em - their life's all ready easy enough.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2004 [1 favorite]


It's not the distance but the time that matters. If someone's more than 3 seconds away, their chances of getting door assistance from me are slim, attractive or not.
posted by majick at 2:46 PM on September 21, 2004


Incorrect. I represent an exception to your rule. I don't appreciate that at all.

And, for those that represent an exception to my rule, well...I just get a thrill out of pissing them off. :)
posted by vacapinta at 3:10 PM on September 21, 2004


When the door pushes open instead of pulls, and the handle is all the way at the edge of the door, how do you guys deal with it? Do you try to hold the door open with a hand on it, without crossing the threshold, and let the lady pass by you? Sometimes it's tight, especially if the door (or the lady!) is heavy.

Or do you violate custom and step through the doorway in order to hold it open? I've always wondered about this one.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:43 PM on September 21, 2004


That custom died with the advent of hydraulic door closers. Through the door first.
posted by cardboard at 9:54 PM on September 21, 2004


Sorry, DevilsAdvocate, I'm with rafter,
I jaywalk alot (there are probably no Korean cops here) and part of doing that is judging the speed of oncoming traffic. Slowing down is as dangerous for me as speeding up because when I step into the street I've already determined that you'll be past the point where our paths cross.

As for doors with hydraulic closers, hold them for about as long as they take to close (usually less than a minute).
posted by Octaviuz at 12:45 AM on September 22, 2004


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