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Riser's avatar

Why do people have to keep their hand "on guard" when you open the door for them?

Asked by Riser (3485points) March 13th, 2008

I was reading JohnPowell’s comment in the “thank you” question that reminded me of something that has always saddened me about the psychological condition of America.

Whenever I open the door for someone their instinct seems to go on the defensive and keep a hand up as though protecting themselves from the possibility of me letting go of the door right at the point of no return so it slams into them.

I believe this is because of a lack of trust our sub conscious has developed because of the world around us, your thoughts?

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12 Answers

Phil's avatar

I and probably most do that as a gesture of helping the person.

jrpowell's avatar

I don’t see it. I have never seen are defensive reaction to holding a door. I’m a liberal tree-hugger.

But I will share this. I lived in Riverside California for a few years. Oh my, I hated it. I was taught to not look at people. Look at the ground and they won’t kick your skinny ass. That was my teenage years. Never look at anyone and they won’t hit you.

Then I moved to Eugene when I was 15 and strangers started giving me hugs and high-fives. Now if I hold the door for a 80 year old gentleman and he shakes my hand. I guess it is the difference between living in a community and trying to survive.

sndfreQ's avatar

it’s probably from all the times I let the door go mid-transaction LOL

Riser's avatar

JohnPowell: No wonder I took a liking to your kind. I spent seven years of my early life in Riverside…. I know exactly what you mean.

I probably should have noted that I live in Los Angeles, Ca. That would probably shed some light on my question.

squirbel's avatar

Wow, Riverside is scary. lol… I always make eye contact :O

I spent most of my formative years in Texas [Galveston], and it really is the hospitality state. It’s a social standard to say hello to everyone be it vocally or just a nod. If you don’t, they know you’re not a Texan [I tend to conform quick :P].

You can also have a full blown conversation with a complete stranger, about anything – and not even think about meeting them again.

But New York… Michigan? Nope – can’t do it there….

I’m really not into big city places where people are so cold and rushed.

squirbel's avatar

I guess people are guarded in large cities like LA because of lack of trust. In smaller or less busy places, you’re granted an automatic small amount of trust from everyone – but in LA you start in the ├╝ber-negative!

Just a guess :P

jrpowell's avatar

What a fucking shithole Riverside was. I learned how to swim in the blue dot in the middle. And Cope Jr. High was about the worst thing to ever happen to me. I do miss Del Taco.

Google maps to the apartment building I spent way to much time in.

Noon's avatar

I’ve never seen it as a defensive stance or have I thought that when I do it myself. I usually stick by hand out the relieve the person from the job of holding the door, and the then return the favor assuming they are going to go back through the way I came.

This can still be interpreted as “I don’t trust you so I’ll take care of it myself” but I hope I don’t come accross that way when I do it.

As for my neighborhood. I live in the Castro, and people talk to strangers all the time. Lots of eye contact, and strong sense of community. That is until the sun goes down and its a meat market, and you don’t make eye contact unless the next words out of your mouth are “your place or mine”. But besides that, good ol’ southern hospitality.

jkainz's avatar

squirbel I’m from Texas too and I know exactly what you are talking about. I live in Orlando now and people give me odd looks when I say thank you for really little things.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Very funny skit involving holding the door for people. It’s pretty much dead on.

iSteve's avatar

This is a very interesting concept to me. I had never thought of that gesture as being a defensive move before. When I do it I say thank you, and putting up my hand is a more of a “I appreciate the courtesy and now I’ll take it from here” kind of thing. I’ve never thought about how that came across, though. Now I will!!!

jz1220's avatar

That skit is so funny uberbatman, gotta hand it to our friends across the pond.

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