I was walking into the office today, getting into the elevator in the parkade when the woman who was walking in front of me let the door slam right in my face.
I opened the door and found myself standing next to her at the elevator. She looked at me – perhaps sheepishly, perhaps peevishly – and said “the elevator takes so long to come that I wanted to make sure I got the button pressed. That’s always my first priority. That’s why I didn’t hold the door open for you.”
Just how long does it take to hold the door open? Oh, it might have taken an extra 15 seconds. And that interminable elevator wait? How long is that? Oh, it might have been 3 minutes.
I spent that whole 3 minutes boggled by the entire situation.
What on earth does it mean when holding the door open for someone is 15 seconds that you just can’t spare?
Now, I appreciate that we should always be aware that we don’t know what is going on in someone’s life and maybe there was an emergency and maybe she didn’t have the 15 seconds. (Although she had the 3 minutes to wait for the elevator)
This feels like those extraordinarily stupid facebook messages that say someone somewhere might be suffering from something you can’t see and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there and we should all think of the children/puppies/unicorns/dead guppies and post this on our status for an hour.
She was suffering from a thing. And I could see it.
And that thing was called self absorption. Pushing the elevator button to get the elevator here 15 seconds earlier was more important than turning around to hold the door open.
She was suffering from a thing and we are all suffering when she does this thing. We see that thing in our interactions.
The thing is called rudeness. And we live in a ruder and ruder society. Where it is no longer expected that you hold the door open for someone. Where we are all so busy and so important and we look out for number one first and we are all so scared of our fellow man that we simply can’t hold the door open.
Unfortunately 3 minutes wasn’t quite enough time for me to work up the courage to point all of this out to her.
I rather wish it had been.