door opening etiquette

Ken writes:

Here’s what happened recently to a philosophy blogger I occasionally read:

I was walking into a local corporate coffee shop and, being the kind of gentleman I am, I kindly held the door for the person who was walking out of the shop. The person did not say “thank you” as he walked out, so I let the door go; it hit him, and this caused him to drop the things he was carrying, including his cellphone, which broke into a few pieces. Enraged, he looked at me and said, “What the hell, dude?” I replied, “You didn’t thank me, so I inferred that I was not doing you a favor, and I let the door go.” Incredulous, he replied, “What?” I replied, “I’m not your doorman.”

link here

In the main the comments are supportive. Did he do anything wrong?


7 thoughts on “door opening etiquette

  1. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    I think this is appalling, the results of his actions were out of all proportion to the perceived bad behavior of the other person.
    Courtesy, small kindnesses, as with all other good actions should ultimately be about doing what is right, not what will be acknowledged.
    In short, he behaved neither as a philosopher nor as a gentleman.

  2. mairij

    I’m on the side of the philosopher; he simply let the door go; he did not cause the phone to drop; those were further consequences over which he had no control. I think he was right to let the door go.

  3. In my philosophy he was wrong. If we only do good things in exchange for other good things, we are no more than a bartering bunch of people. Higher judgement and the knowledge of what is kind and better than the norm should lead behaviour. Call it moral judgement (Kohlberg) or Buddhism. I doesn’t matter what actually happened, letting the door go was unkind and revengeful.

    1. gazza

      That’s the kind of thing I would do. And then, if my wife had witnessed it or if I told her about it afterwards, she would tell me what an idiot I am. And she’d be right, since she’s much smarter about this sort of thing than I am. There’s no benefit whatsoever to letting the door go, other than the brief satisfaction gained from petty revenge. A feeling of brief satisfaction from petty revenge is never a good reason to do anything.

  4. Logically, semantically, pragmatically correct but not ethically? But ends up the loser in gaming / social anthropology terms. Better ending: ridiculous excessive bowing with flourishes and saying “no, thank YOU sir/madam.” I get a chuckle out of people carrying on one-sided conversations with rude people who’ve ignored polite gestures. In utilitarian terms, this is a better comeback: entertains a number of bystanders, increasing the sum of happiness, and might also educate–humour such a splendid tool here. And he who laughs last laughs longest.

    Note to self: another good reason to wear a fairly large hat.

    Speaking cynically, though: is there any evidence that he actually did this, other than his own word? It sounds to me like exactly the sort of thing I’d fantasize about having done, after the fact, esprit d’escalier.

  5. blackwatertown

    Not saying he was right. But I still like it and approve.
    “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right, etc…”
    Or in summary – slap it up ‘im.

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