Chivalrous Knights

A young man on the north side of campus wearing a navy ski jacket had his manners in top form last week, a rarity around campus these days. The simple act of holding open a door, however, can really make someone else's day.

I live in Ontario Hall, and therefore covet the hours between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. when I can walk freely through Seneca Hall and avoid the extra two minutes spent outdoors.

Unfortunately, on Friday night I had to work until 8 p.m., so there went one natural high for the night. As I rounded the corner of Seneca, I heard a voice call behind me, "Hey, do you wanna walk through here?" It was a boy carrying something fried from Letchworth and holding his card up to Seneca's scanner. I called back "yeah," and he held the door for me.

Before I continue, allow me to specify the actions that qualify as "holding the door." Holding a door open means opening the door and then standing outside, allowing someone else to enter before you. It is not noticing that there is someone behind you and pushing the door a little so it stays open longer, or keeping just your fingertips on it until they catch up; those situations exemplify the avoidance of rudeness, not attempted politeness.

The mystery boy in Seneca actually met the requirements of being polite, and I hurried over – I didn't want him to change his mind and lock me out. I then launched into a "thank you" rant that probably would have ended in a hug if I hadn't suddenly realized he had his iPod on and was paying zero attention to me. He turned to go up the stairs and I continued on to Ontario, thinking about what had happened.

I've never required a boy, with the exception of my brothers, to hold the door for me, but my brothers are younger and I enjoy harassing them, so that hardly counts. Of course, grabbing the door for someone is always the better option for both men and women, so when in doubt do as your grandparents would do. That's not to say I would ever sit inside a car and refuse to get out until a guy came around and opened my door for me.

If my female predecessors in the sexual revolution fought for all of us – men and women – to be equal, then I will follow suit. If women aren't being objectified on campus, if we aren't being mocked for trying to get a college degree, if we hold offices, have jobs, eat, sleep, party and learn the same way boys do, it's technically a minor consolation that we women have to let ourselves into buildings. And on that stroke, men could just as easily throw equality back in our faces and question our own door etiquette.

In general, doors are tricky little guys. It's one of those things for which none of us may ever understand the actual rules, like how many miles per hour over the speed limit we can safely drive, or the actual noise level that the main floor of Milne can tolerate. My mystery gentleman might be considered a gem of a human being, but others could say it's pathetic that his actions were rare enough to constitute this kind of attention.

I say that he made my night, so carry on, navy ski jacket.