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Small Wonders: Just open the door for someone

October 28, 2011

Last week, in my little corner of your local newspaper, I contemplated the ills of society. I offered my opinion on humanity’s great downfall, be it political, spiritual or social in nature. Namely, that all of us are so absorbed in our own interests and realities we can’t be bothered to consider the needs, beliefs or concerns of others.

Thanks to everyone for their feedback to my latest delusion of grandeur. And, no, I was not dropped on my head as a child. I fell. A lot.

Now I’m not so naive to think that any of our problems will be solved by a new seat warmer in the White House, the adoption of a new tax code, the limitation or expansion of certain inalienable rights or by holding hands globally and singing “Kumbaya” until pixie dust rains down from the heavens.

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But I do believe there is something that has the power to change the world: a little civility. A little grassroots campaign at good old-fashioned manners.

“But how?” you ask with bated breath. Well, I’ll tell you. And for this one, you ladies can take a break. I’ll be talking to the men-folk.

Guys, help me out here. There’s a little thing I was taught that you always do for the ladies. Open the door for them. This nicety was pounded into me at a young age by my female-dominated family. I didn’t like it then, thought it was silly, pointless and a waste of time. But it stuck.

And if I were to listen to many of the women for whom I hold the door for each week, I am apparently in the minority of men. While holding the door open for a lady at the office or store, I'm often met with a look of shock and awe.

“It’s so nice to know there are still gentlemen out there,” they’ll say with all the silky gentility such a statement implies. Imagine Kate Winslet as a character in any Jane Austen novel. That’s what it sounds like. Picturing Kate Winslet in a corset helps.

And I am always equally shocked by their surprised reaction. I’m no Cyrano; just ask my better, fairer half. I’ve always assumed that all men were taught to open doors for ladies. If I am the poster boy for chivalry, the world is in a sorrier state than I imagined.

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