I recall a time, yes, just one time, when I didn't say thank you for the door that was being held opened for me. The reason it is so clear in my memory is because the person holding the door sneered a sarcastic "Thank You" at me as I raced through. Most of us, at one time or another, have reacted in that manner, myself included, but when I realized in that moment that I was the one ignoring someone else's kind gesture, I quickly turned, apologized and blurted an embarrassed, "Thank you!" But by then they were already on the sidewalk. This was well over ten years ago, but it's still fresh in my mind.
It was a day when I was working out of the Borders Books Park Avenue store and was getting ready for a major author event. It was crunch time, but how much crunch time does there need to be to allow for rudeness? The answer is none and ever since, I cannot approach a door being held opened for me without making sure I acknowledge it with a thank you-even if the person holding the door for me puts me in a run so they aren't standing there holding it for any length of time. (I think there should be a ten second rule when it comes to holding a door for someone-meaning, if it takes them more ten seconds to reach the door, they're on their own. Even ten seconds is a long time, if you count it out.)
But since I was in Manhattan, in a city whose people are supposedly known for rudeness, I always tried to make it a point that I was not of that ilk. And one day I failed and it was pointed out to me. I'm sure some would laugh at the fact that I recollected that day so long ago. True, in the grand scheme of things, it's not such a big deal. However, let me share with you what my grandfather wrote in the autograph book I got when I graduated from sixth grade. Grandpa had no more than a second grade education and it took him a few minutes to pen in his careful scrawl the following:
Life holds for you two very special keys, they are thank you, sir and if you please.