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Friday, February 26, 2010

Holding the door open

One thing that I imported from US stay was holding the door open for your following walker. This practice is so common in US that everyone will do it even for complete strangers when passing through a gated entrance in any public place. It obviates need for follower to pry open the door, specially if that warrants special effort or entry pass and saves few moments of his time. It encumbers leader to spend few moments waiting for follower to catch up to him and keep the door open lest it shuts on follower’s face. This is all part of acceptable social courtesy and admittedly a good one.

However, being a courtesy ritual, this also has danger of having more meaning in intention than in reality. In some cases, waiting for follower to catch up could be as long as 10 to 15 seconds (a not insignificant time standing holding the door) which could be inconvenient for the leader. Moreover, sometimes it is not required for leader to wait holding the door open for follower, even if leader has intention of eliminating efforts of opening on follower’s part. This is because of how some door works.

As you know very well, some doors have spring or damper in their hinges which makes them close very slowly even when not held open. As you also know that typical human frame can enter a door which is only half open because of difference in width of door opening and width of human body. Combining these two insights with the common sense estimate of follower’s speed can sometime make leader leave the door and walk away just at the moment so that door is still half open for follower to pass through without having to open again. This will not only serve the purpose of helping your follower but also reduce waiting time for the leader — a win-win situation which serves the courtesy as well as minimizes total inconvenience. But, of course. Follower’s potential inability to understand this dynamics and calculation in leader’s mind and read leader’s action in not keeping the door open as violation of social courtesy, thereby imparting more meaning to ritual rather than effect, and thereby casting doubt on intention of leader rather than evaluating impact of his action, forces leader to wait till follower catches up, thus achieving suboptimal solution for himself without improving convenience to other.

I've had this debate internally so many times whenever I was leader in this ritual.

Edit 14th July 2014.
I was much ahead of the times :) http://thedoghousediaries.com/5842
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