‘Women and children first’ is so 1912

A nice guy holds the door for me at work … for the sake of the picture. This generation is big into taking pictures.

A stunning event at work today: Outside the elevator, a young man stepped aside and motioned for me to go first.

I could scarcely move. I strained to recall the last time I’d witnessed an under-28-something cisgender male behave thusly.

Since our media megalopolis declared itself “digital first,” bands of coding whipper-snappers who run laps with laptops tucked into the crook of their arms somehow decoded that guiding principle as: They get to go first.

I’d grown used to yielding to packs of geeks in every corridor. They depress me because they utter things like: “Print is dead” (no lie, I heard this in the elevator yesterday from a pair of them, and they were chortling about it). I’ve come to expect that sort of thing from them.

But this? Deference to me, a vestige of the green-visor age? Totally out of character.

Simply put: Chivalry is dead to this generation.

The flip side: Do women even want this kind of treatment?

How many of you have had a door held open by an older gentleman … except the door proves 30 yards away and you feel obligated to scamper in heels, heart-racing, everything jostling, while he holds, watches, just to accept his lame help despite being perfectly capable and strong enough to open a freaking door, for goodness sake … then wonder whether your frazzled display was how he regularly gets his jollies?

Happens to me a lot.

Some women take offense to door-holdings and after-yous. What about that double-door set-up at malls and office buildings? You murmur, “Thank you” once … then a beat later, “Thank you, again” giggle-giggle, gaze at floor.

Or, you take turns: I’ll hold once for you, you hold once for me.

It’s not just older men doing this for hot young women, it’s women doing this for men, women doing it for women … unsure I’ve ever seen men-on-men door-holding. Come to think of it, what IS the proper distance to hold a door for someone? Is it when they’re 10 feet away? 15? I hate making them run. Why run? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of easing things for the other person? Here, I’ll hold the door and spare you the 2-pound pull, if you’ll just run sprint drills for my amusement.

Are these spaces sponsored by businesses, like highway cleanup signs? Is it just another form of cheap advertising? So many things in modern life confuse me.

One thing that does shock me in this day and age are parking spaces reserved for “expectant mothers” or those with young children. Shocks me because NO ONE EVER USES THEM.

They remind me of those vintage “Baby on Board” rear window suction signs announcing the presence of an innocent in tow, ss if someone would ram the rear-end of your vehicle so long as no one under 5 were inside. After the wreck, the driver whimpers, “B-b-b-but I had a yellow diamond sign on there, din’tcha see? You were supposed to steer clear of me!”

Here in Northern Virginia, almost everyone violates traditional handicapped spots, despite hefty fines attached. Entire crime rings get built around fake handicapped placards you can pull out of your glove box to hang from your rear-view mirror when convenient. Yet I never see anyone violating these “expectant mother” spaces … let alone using them.

Would an actual pregnant woman feel obligated to prove she’s pregnant, especially if she weren’t showing, if she parked there … is that why they don’t bother? I wonder about fat women. Could they get away with parking there, in a pinch? Who would dare challenge a fattie or even someone post-menopausal? Beware the hot flashes.

I watched this prime piece of real estate at Pan Am Shopping Center in Fairfax, Va., for about two hours one day. No one ever parked there. Does the mere having to read a sign scare people off?

Maybe no one violates these spaces because they circumscribe law.  Where would be the fun in crossing a blurred line?

Or maybe … just maybe … these spaces indicate a resurgence in societal values regarding “women and children first,” hearkening back to the noble men on the Titanic who gave their lives so that the delicate innocents might flourish.

Anyway. I just wanted to thank that elevator guy. It was nice.

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