Monday, 21 March 2011

The Dilemmas of Doors

Knock knock. Who's there?

Doors. We experience them every day, almost continuously as we navigate ourselves round this chaotic world. In truth, passing through a door is not particularly exciting, but certain door occurrences are noteworthy.

Being the polite, courteous and all round charming individual (in my humble opinion), walking through a door usually involves a quick glance behind to check there’s no-one else behind me who could benefit from this door remaining open. If they’re just steps behind me, then it’s fine. A second or two of waiting, a thank you nod from the recipient and life continues on as normal. Nevertheless, sometimes the situation isn’t quite as easy.

Every so often, there’s someone behind you, but at quite a distance and this throws up a moral dilemma. Do you wait for what seems like an eternity for them to hobble over, or do you just let the door shut on them? Waiting seems pointless at certain distances but somehow, the altruistic part of your brain takes over and you wait, holding open the door, lingering until they finally manage to cover the distance. If you’re on the receiving end of door related selflessness, you feel obliged to hurry up your pace, to reach the door before the unselfish Samaritan’s arm tires of holding up the door and begin to feel pain. Social obligations metaphorically begin to push you forwards, quickening your pace, sometimes all the way into a run. Isn’t it great when these social requirements help you exercise?

Another door related awkward moment occurs when you’re arriving at someone’s house and you go to ring the doorbell. You hear the muted sound of the shrill ringing from inside the house. You sense the ringing sound reverberating around the household, bouncing and reflecting off every surface, signalling to those within the house that someone is outside, waiting to come in. 

But some doorbells are designed by daft dunces, so that the main user of the doorbell cannot hear the sound. This leaves you standing outside, staring aimlessly at the door, waiting until you hear the sound of hurried footsteps. You stand gawping at the door, like you’ve become helplessly infatuated with its rectangular beauty and the intricate design of the knocker that you now realise you should have used. But knocking is out the question now the bell has been rung. You don’t want to seem impatient, like riot police trying to break it to seize the Class A drugs hidden inside transparent plastic bags (according to police shows, not personal experience).  So you just stand there waiting, until finally someone opens the door and the depressed waiting face transforms into one of happiness and joy and you step into the house, knowing the ordeal of door bell ringing is finally over.

Nothing in this world is simple, not even the supposed simplicity of passing through a door. And doors aren’t all bad, despite their minor annoyances. Without them, the world would never have had knock knock jokes? And what kind of world would that be?


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  2. I very much enjoyed reading this (my introduction to your site). So far I like the way you meander :-)) Looking forward to more thought-provoking posts...Thanks!

  3. I can relate to both of these 'awkward door moments'! :)

  4. Doors are a necessary evil.

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