Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Honor of J

J, who commented on my last post, has noticed that people in big cities are not polite. As an example, she mentioned holding doors open and thanking others for doing so. It generally doesn't happen in big cities.

Since then, I've been observing behavior between strangers closely for politeness. Here are my observations, in order of precedence:
  • Black people are exceptionally polite when white people hold doors open for them. White people are quiet when the reverse is true. Reasons for this discrepancy will be left to the comments.
  • There appears to be a correlation between politeness and kilometers from a city's center. Suburban strangers say thank you almost always, while those in the city are usually quiet.
  • Gender roles are still expected: Women holding the door for men will be taken advantage of grudgingly and silently. Men holding the door for men will be taken advantage of with an accompanying strange look (and silence).
  • Men hold doors more often; women say thank you more often. When a man and a woman encounter a door, the male is most likely to hold it open for the woman. The woman will almost always say thank you. A man will hurry through doors held open by anyone, often at the expense of a proper thank you. However, it should be noted that men often exchange nods of acknowledgment/thanks which cannot always be reliably observed.
  • Finally, suburban men are the most likely to hold doors open for as long as people flow by. Perhaps city dwellers have learned when to give up looking for the end of the line and sneak by early to find their groups.
I am a habitual doorman and have not learned to ever abandon my post except at the conclusions of large meetings, such as at church. But, if it weren't for my duty of accompanying my grandparents, I don't think I would particularly mind being stuck for a few minutes holding a door. It would be an excellent opportunity to observe thankful people, if nothing else.

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