Clearly, no one was there to open his door when manners were being passed out


AS HAS BEEN discussed in this space before, there is nothing more annoying than people who don't say thanks when you hold the door for them.

You know how a dog will instantly gravitate to the person in the room who fears him the most? Well, I seem to attract all these rude idiots who don't say thanks when you hold the door for them. It's like wherever I go, these people are holding a club meeting or something.

What brings this all to mind is something that happened recently at the convenience store.

I spend half my life in convenience stores, due to the fact that every five minutes, we seem to run out of something in my house.

And when this happens, I don't feel like going to the supermarket and standing in the express lane behind some woman who has 13 items in her cart because she counts four packages of Green Giant Niblets Corn as one item. (I know, I know ... you have your own problems.)

Anyway, as I'm walking into the convenience store the other day for the papers and a coffee, there's this guy right behind me.

Being the consummate gentleman, I open the door and let the guy go in first.

And the guy doesn't say anything.

Doesn't say: "Thank you."

Doesn't say: "Hey, appreciate it."

Doesn't say diddly.

OK. In addition to being a gentleman, I am also charitable in temperament (he said modestly.) So I'm willing to cut this guy some slack.

It's early in the morning, I say to myself. Maybe he just hasn't woken up yet. Maybe he's preoccupied with some family matter.

Although to tell you the truth, in the back of my mind, another tiny thought is metastasizing rapidly: Maybe he's just a jerk.

Anyway, I get my papers and my coffee and pay the girl with the 15 eyebrow rings behind the counter and head for the door.

And who's right behind me but the same guy: Mr. Personality.

But again, I do the right thing and hold the door for the guy. Only this time I'm clutching the papers under one arm and holding a scalding-hot cup of coffee in one hand while holding the door open with the other hand.

Believe me, this maneuver is particularly tricky when the scalding-hot cup of coffee is poised about five inches above your groin.

But somehow I manage to pull it off. And the guy walks out.

And again, he doesn't say anything.

Doesn't say: "Awful nice of you."

Doesn't say: "You're one of nature's noblemen, you know that?"

Doesn't say jack.

Well. By this point, of course, I am starting to get genuinely hot at this guy.

But it's Saturday morning. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. People are smiling. You know what I'm saying?

It's too nice a day to get in jerky-boy's face and shriek: "WOULD IT KILL YOU TO SAY THANKS?!"

So I chalk it up to the great national erosion of manners and let it go at that.

And that would be the end of the story, which would probably be a good thing, the way this column is going.

Except as soon as I get outside, I realize I have to get something at the hardware store, which is a few doors down.

Anyway, as I reach the door, I feel the presence of someone behind me. And you'll never guess who it is. Or maybe you will, because you're probably not as slow as I am.

Right. It's Mr. Personality again. By this time, of course, the sight of this guy has me thinking one thing: stalker.

But I'm also conducting a little experiment here. I want to see how many times someone can be nice to this jerk without his acknowledging it.

So I hold the door for him again, doing the same genital-threatening maneuver with the papers and the scalding coffee.

The guy waltzes into the store. And again he doesn't say anything.

Well. If you're scoring at home, I am now 0-for-3 in getting a thank-you from this guy.

And this is too much, even for someone with my incredibly even temperament. By this point, I am doing a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a brush fire.

So as the guy walks away, I say in a loud voice: "You're welcome, pal."

At this, the guy stops. And with a confused look on his face, sort of like someone coming out of anesthesia, he says: "Huh? Oh, um, thanks."

At first, you figure it's no fun having to coerce a thank-you from someone.

But when you try it, it's really not so bad.

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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