Regional differences in door opening

People seem to like discussing regional differences.

In the midwest, whoever gets to the door first opens it to let everyone behind through.

In the South gentlemen open the door to let the ladies through, but not vice versa.  Getting used to this is still a work in progress.

In the East coast nobody opens the door for anyone.

What are the door opening norms where you live?  Are there other little regional differences you’ve noticed?

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32 Responses to “Regional differences in door opening”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    In the East coast nobody opens the door for anyone.

    This is not exactly true. It is true that most of the time you don’t open the door, allow someone else to go through, and then go through after them. However, people frequently do this if it is someone holding packages, pushing a handtruck or stroller, etc.

    However, there is an etiquette of at least holding the door open as you go through so that the next person can take over the door without it beginning to close onto them. Interestingly, there is a sub-etiquette to this that I mentioned in the past, here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/physioprof/2009/10/12/door-holding-etiquette/

    If I am exiting a public doorway in front of you, and I hold the door briefly as I exit so you can then hold it for yourself without it striking you, don’t stop in the doorway while I’m holding it and use both hands to button your coat. I’m not your motherfucking valet, cockwad.

    There are some interesting comments at the post I linked above. BTW, I have been told, but with no evidence to support, that in Hong Kong, people don’t even bother trying to hold the door open for followers so it doesn’t slam on them, and also that on elevators as soon as the elevator stops at a floor, the people inside start furiously pushing the door close button while making eye contact with the people outside the elevator trying to enter.

    Finally, it is absolutely true that in crowded places in Japan–like department stores–they have attendants whose job is to shove people into the elevators to pack them in as tightly as possible before the elevator doors close.

    I was once on an elevator in an Odakyu store in Tokyo, and there was an elderly woman using a cane to stay upright next to me. As more and more people were shoving harder and harder into the elevator, this poor woman was being crushed. I saw the misery on her face, so I loudly said, “Stop! Stop!” and pointed at the woman being crushed.

    Everyone involved, including the woman being crushed, paused, looked at me like I was a complete lunatic for a moment, and then resumed slamming into the elevator.

    I also blogged about this:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/physioprof/2010/03/28/japanese-courtesy/

  2. Alyssa Says:

    Hmm…at least at this university, the “courtesy” seems to be to make sure the timing is just perfect for the door to close right on your face. Chivalry is pretty much dead around here. For example: I was heaving a giant container filled with flour – weighing about 100 pounds – into my car as 10s of students streamed by. I even made eye contact with one, ask him directly if he could please help me for a moment, and he looked away and kept walking.

  3. mareserinitatis Says:

    Midwest…but I’d say it’s a mix of getting there first and holding the door for those behind you and holding it open as you pass through so that the next person will get it for you. In either case, however, people almost always say “thanks”.

    My younger son seems to have learned to hold the door open for everyone. Problem is, he’ll sit there and hold it all afternoon if I don’t tell him to just leave it at some point.

  4. Kellen Says:

    I took a flight from Atlanta to New York recently, and I don’t know if I was just in a bad mood from air travel, but all the New Yorkers on the flight definitely didn’t follow airplane etiquette properly! (i.e. you ALWAYS let the rows in front of you exit first). Plus the new yorkers didn’t follow other rules like having electronic devices off and seat backs up during take off and landing.

    I like how in Georgia, people wait for everyone to exit a bus/train/elevator first before pushing on… that is the correct way!!

    • rented life Says:

      Not a New Yorker thing. Saw the same behavior on flights to/from Florida. My parents just took a trip to the midwest and my dad actually kept telling the girl next to him to turn off her phone.

  5. Linda Says:

    Midwest person here! Doesn’t this etiquette depend on whether you’re “with” others as you use the door? During my commutes to and from the office I have to go through doors at the train station and again at the office building. No one stands and holds the door open for anyone at these times, although the sub-etiquette rule mentioned by CPP is in effect: you do your best to make sure the door doesn’t shut in someone’s face as they follow you.

    However, if I’m with a few other people and going out to lunch or for coffee, etc. we do the holding the doors for each other thing. Sort of. We have revolving doors at the main entrances of the office building and that is actually a very confusing etiquette point for many people. Who goes first through the revolving door?

    Apparently someone looked this up at one point and the “proper” etiquette is for the man to go through the revolving door first (thereby pushing this big heavy door for us poor, weak wimmen folk). Frankly, I don’t worry about “proper” revolving door etiquette and just go through first if I reach the door first.

    One thing one must *never* do in a revolving door is use the same revolving “space” as another. Unless you’re accompanying a child or are that person’s SO, that is. Or if you’re in one of those big-ass revolving doors like they have at IKEA that can scoop up 5 or 6 people at a time to enter the store.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Thanks for the proper revolving door etiquette. I rarely see revolving doors but it’s good to know that if someone I would normally help is nearby, I can help them by going first (but not too fast).

      • mom2boy Says:

        I avoid revolving doors at any cost. They scare me.

        I hold the door open for people coming behind me to grab. Also, if I’m entering a building, I wait with the door open if someone is exiting at the exact same time. I assume men are going to hold the door and they very nearly always do around here (Florida).

  6. rented life Says:

    East Coast. Most people hold the door behind them like CPP said. If someone is carrying something, pushing something, etc, I’ll let them go in front of me. I don’t care if someone holds the door for me unless I’m *right* behind them and they slip through and don’t even acknowledge other people exist. But I don’t think that’s regional so much as people who need to be plugged into ipods at all times.

    What really ticks me off is when there are two (or more) doors and no one bothers to open the other door, but they all try to exit/enter in one door. USE THE OTHER DOOR! (I feel the same annoyance if you walk on the wrong side of the stairs.)

    • Dr. Koshary Says:

      This peeve of yours also drives me nuts, rented life! I may just be turning into a crusty old professor, but it seems endemic among college students, who appear to fear the exertion of sufficient effort to open a goddamned door. It makes me want to fail them on general principle.

      • rented life Says:

        You’re not a crusty old professor as I’m the “younger” professor (so I’m told anyway) and I’m usually the one standing behind the students yelling “oh HONESTLY, can’t you all see the other door? Let’s MOVE!”

  7. bogart Says:

    Crunchy free-range granola munching South (there are enclaves!) here. We observe a blend of South + Midwest, where a woman will hold a door for a man but there’s usually a bit of a subcurrent of “haha, look at how forward-thinking we are” as it’s done.

    @Linda, we absolutely will and do hold doors for people we have never seen before nor expect to since and who are not part of any group we are involved with.

    • Linda Says:

      Maybe I didn’t explain it well, bogart. When you’re in a flow of people that is going somewhere, most people don’t stand aside with the door open for others around here. Heck, if I did this I’d never make it to/from my train at rush hour!

      • bogart Says:

        @Linda — OK (what are these trains of which you speak ;) ?), but … we would. I mean not necessarily uniformly and not for everyone (and as noted, no trains), but if I were, say, walking into a mall with a wandering unit of 20 folks (which would be a large group to be found wandering into a single mall entrance all at once, here), it’s entirely likely that someone would hold the door for a bunch of the others. Of course it’s also perfectly possible that they wouldn’t. Maybe it’s just a function of time and crowds?

  8. Debbie M Says:

    I notice generational differences more than regional differences. People both younger and older than me are more sexist/chivalrous than people in my generation (born in the 1960s). By which I mean that if I try to hold the door open for a man and let him through, he will often take it from me and make me go through first. Even if he is carrying way more stuff than I am.

    In the situation where there are two sets of doors, one just past the other, and a man holds the door open for me, I rush to open the second door and say, “My turn,” to make it clear that it’s okay with me if he just walks through this second door himself, but men will still sometimes grab the door from me and make me go through first.

    I try not to get annoyed by this sexism. Well, no, I don’t. But I try not to think less of the chivalrous ones and to remember that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t (depending on who they’re with), so the safest course for them is to hold doors open for women.

    Mostly in my area (Texas), people open their own doors and then hold them open for people behind them to grab, even if this requires waiting a couple of seconds because the people behind them aren’t right close behind them.

  9. Anandi Raman Creath (@anandi) Says:

    Seattle here and it’s typically more of the go through first and hold the door for the next person to grab it. Though lately, I’ve noticed that my being pregnant seems to cause people to actually open the door for me and let me go through. (Men and women.) I have to say, it’s one of the (few) things I love about being pregnant – people are more deliberately nice to me than usual, esp at my oblivious-techie filled workplace.

    @Work it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. We have ID badge readers at every entrance, and exhortations for EVERYONE to badge in and NOT let in tailgaters which basically enforces horrible behavior, ie going through and letting the door slam in front of someone else, etc.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      When I’ve been places with card systems, they often let you hold the door open for someone so long as the person clicks their card and is accepted… so you can’t go in without being approved but you also don’t need the door to be closed between people.

  10. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Miami so I guess Foreign Country??? Most people here are rude and just let the door go. Some people do the thing Comrade said. However, we get a LOT of tourists here and they ALWAYS hold the door open especially for a girl. Also, being a pretty sexist city, I’ve noticed more men hold the door for me when I’m in a skirt or a dress than when I’m in pants. Douchebags. I do a mix of opening the door for you and holding it a bit so it doesn’t slam on you but if you’re just taking your sweet time, or I’m totally out of it, forget it. Oh and I ALWAYS say thank you even when they’re just doing the prolonged door push for me.

  11. profgrrrrl Says:

    I live in the south. No need to say more than that, really. Although a great way to confuse an older man here would be to open the door and wait for him to enter :)

  12. Candi @ min hus Says:

    Midwest here and yep, you nailed us. Although, being female, male coworkers often insist on rushing and opening the door first, which is nice and all but sometimes makes me feel silly.

    I work at a college and am often impressed at how polite our students can be. I’ve often had them wait to hold a door, especially if i’m carrying something. Of course there are also those that are oblivious and will let a door shut right in your face, but you know, that’s people for ya.

  13. femmefrugality Says:

    Haha love the eastern reference. It’s not always true, but a funny stereotype. Pittsburgh’s an odd city. It’s not midwest. Yet it’s not entirely eastern either. People tend to hold the door open for anyone, unless they’re snobby middle aged women who have decided they’re more important than you. Extra effort is made to help out the elderly and mothers of young ones. But these are generalizations and aren’t always true.

  14. Mijdier Says:

    Here in Louisiana I, a male, 61, hold doors for anyone near enough behind me (a few step). Over the last 15-20 years I have received the same courtesy from other men, women, and children. It’s just being sociable.


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