We all remember the first grade version of the 3-second rule, but my version stems from the hybrid personality I’m developing as I process the move from Philadelphia to Charlottesville, VA. People are actually kind of polite here. They open doors for other people and expect you to do the same. Weird Right? In Philadelphia we got to strut around in dark sunglasses and act like we cared about no one but ourselves. We had tunnel vision. Taking the time to assist others just resulted in you being shoved away by everyone else whose life was obviously more glamorous and important than yours. The only obvious exception I found was a 10 foot radius around Trader Joe’s on 21st and Market St. People were bizarrely happy and nice there. Maybe that’s another reason we should all consider going organic?
Here, politeness is almost taken too far. I’m sorry, but I hate when people open a door for me when I’m 20 feet away from it. I like to walk obliviously at my own pace. When someone does that I have to trot quickly over to the door so I don’t abuse their courtesy. But, I don’t want to trot! And I’m more then capable of opening the door – I do it tens of times every day and the world keeps on spinning round round round.
So, I have proposed a standardized social protocol that will hopefully fulfill my courtesy obligation and not impede my life too too much: the three second rule. When I cross a doorway threshold and hear someone behind me, while continuing to look forward (NEVER LOOK BACK!), I hold the door open for three seconds, release, and then continue on my merry way. Looking back is what leads to these ‘waiting 15 seconds while they trot over to the door’ awkward scenarios. You got to focus on the prize, but still not be a total bitch. I think it has promise.
In practice it has been going pretty well. I had one casualty, where this older woman sighed heavily at me because the door half closed by the time she got to it. The older ones are always least receptive to change though….Just don’t look back!