Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chivalry Is Not Dead, Thank You Very Much




thank you

Along with hordes of students this week, I made my way back to school. One of the colleges where I teach English has a small satellite campus (where I usually teach) and a much larger main campus where I find myself this semester.

It’s been a bit of an adjustment from being able to access everything I need in one place to now having to wander in and out of several different buildings to pick up my mail, hold my office hours, get to class, and so on. One consequence of this situation, though, has left me pleasantly surprised: Wherever I go, young men are holding doors open for me.

This used to be a commonplace occurrence extended to women without even thinking about it. Over the years, however, it has become a dying nicety. It seems to have been phased out along with other pleasantries, such as saying “please” and “thank you” and giving the driver behind you a “thank you” wave when they let you cut in ahead of them.

Where have these courtesies gone? I don’t blame it on the younger generation because I’ve had doors slammed shut in my face by all ages, and I’ve puttered along for miles waiting for a simple acknowledgement wave from drivers young and not-so-young whose inconsiderate driving I chose to slow down for instead of honk at.    

But during this first week of school, I’m thrilled to say I have not had to open a single door for myself. Whenever a male student opened the door for himself, he looked behind him and, automatically it seemed, held the door open to let me through as well. These polite young students have been standing near doors, not even going through them themselves, seen me coming, and reached to open the door for me. One young man opened the door for himself, looked behind him and saw me coming down the hallway, and waited for me to reach the doorway so he could hold it open for me. “Will wonders never cease,” my mother would say.

Ever appreciative of polite behavior, I am loving this trend that seems to be making a comeback. My heartfelt “thank you” might seem overly enthusiastic, but it’s absolutely sincere.

Now if I could just find a way to bring back the driving “thank you” wave.

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