The door hold conundrum

I think of myself as a fairly courteous and considerate person. As such, I often do my best to hold doors for people when entering or exiting a building. The way I see it, there is an unwritten rule that establishes a magic radius around the door to a building. If at any time two or more parties enter said radius, whether entering or exiting, the first person to make contact with the door gets the job of holding it for the others for the duration the radius is filled, or until someone else places a hand on the door, taking responsibility for the door holding position. Unfortunately, most doorways to public buildings are made of glass. This means all parties can see each other before reaching the magic radius, which leads to what I call 'The Door Hold Conundrum'. The situation can best be explained with an example. Let's say you just bought a Slurpee from 7-Eleven. As you begin to walk to the exit, you notice someone walking towards the store from the parking lot. At this point several things can happen:

1) You arrive first and exit the store long before the other person enters the magic radius 2) You arrive first and snuff the other person by not holding the door 3) You arrive first and hold the door for the other person 4) You arrive at the same time and have the awkward 'who's gonna go first' experience 5) The other person arrives first and holds the door for you 6) The other person arrives first and snuffs you by not holding the door 7) The other person arrives first and exits the store long before you reach the magic radius

Now the conundrum comes about because there is a window of opportunity where, if you're paying attention to the situation, you can actually determine which of the above outcomes you experience. Most of the time you're probably not paying enough attention or maybe you're actually subconsciously making a choice, but there is some part of your brain that is going to do the math. If you commit to being courteous and arrive too early, you look like an idiot standing there with the door open for an eternity. If you commit to not having to hold the door and don't make it soon enough, you come off as an inconsiderate jerk.

Sure. Maybe I'm just weird. Maybe I over analyze things. Maybe you've never noticed the situation. And maybe you've never considered the conundrum. You should give it a try though, just for fun. See if you can catch yourself trying to control which outcome you experience.

posted by Christopher Schnese