August 30, 2013

The Awkward Door Dance

At school lately students of all genders and male faculty have been opening the door for me - be it a building, classroom or elevator door - and are letting me walk through first. Today, this turned into an awkward dance as I was walking through many doors with two male colleagues and then we took an elevator together. I kept waiting and they kept waiting and then finally I would step through and say, sheepishly, "thanks".

I recall how there were times in my life when I thought that a door should have been opened for me - by a date or even a not-yet-ex-husband. To myself I thought, as they rudely stepped in front of me, "shouldn't they hold that open and let me go first?" Now here it is and I wonder why the door situation has suddenly opened for me?

Is this because I am becoming a woman of a certain age? You know, 44. Or, is it because I am dressing more stylishly which means that I am wearing impractical shoes so they want to make sure I make it through the door? Do I look more door-opening worthy or needy? Perhaps there is a new trend in chivalry? Maybe at educational institutions people are more traditional? Do they like watching me walk past them? Does it give them a feeling of satisfaction that they were kind or chivalrous?

In all of this I am not getting the sense they are opening the door for me because they see me as incapable. Ironically, I think they see me, at this point in my career, as more capable. But the door opening protocol is actually making me feel confused at the formality. Really, I prefer going through in whatever order I approach the door - perhaps even last.

Thankfully, I ended my day at school on the Culinary floor where one of the chef's keeps me well supplied with sugary snacks. As she stepped out of the room for a minute, she looked back and asked, "will you guard the door? Don't let anyone into the room." I took this assignment very seriously and stood in my best police officer stance to guard the opening. No one got through, then again, no one tried.