Gate holding governed by simple social rules

“Dear Chick on the Fourth Floor, WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?

XOXO

Kristen”

Or at least that’s what I’ve thought about writing on her dry-erase board. If you think that sounds kind of creepy, it’s because it does. But I promise it makes complete sense. Allow me to explain the situation.

Encounter #1: The scene: Swing Space courtyard, front gate. An unsuspecting young lass is coming down the path. We’re both leaving the courtyard. I’m thinking, meh, I could spare the extra seconds to sprinkle some gate-holding kindness. She’s wearing headphones and is dressed for the gym. She’s getting closer, but still hasn’t shot me the quintessential, “Oh, thanks for holding the gate for me, I’ll be there in just a second” glance. Three yards. Hey lady, you’re cutting it close. Two … one … let’s just skip ahead to the part where I’m appalled. She walks right past me and doesn’t so much as shift her lofty nose my way. I’m taken aback, but I give her the benefit of the doubt. We’ll let this one slide.

Encounter #2: This time, there is no gym attire and we’re both entering the courtyard. I scan my ID, open the gate and put on my friendliest mystique: a little smile action, some head tiltage. I hold my position, despite how slowly she’s walking. C’mon girly, I got you. Bask in my abounding benevolence.

One and a half guesses as to what happens next.

Not only does she not look at me — she turns away.

Really?

Ok, Grumpy McSourson, we’ll play that game.

Encounter #3: Game time. This time, we’re at the actual door of Swing. I’m grilling her. It’s impossible for her not look at me once she looks up when she gets to the top of the stairs. She’s got to look at me now (unless she wants to walk straight into the door).

She doesn’t look up.

Really?

I’m past being annoyed or confused. I just want to know what her deal is. She’s ahead of me as we walk up the stairs and keeps going after we pass my floor. For some reason, I follow. I figure, hey, if you’re not going to acknowledge my presence in life, I’m going to find out who you are.

We get to the fourth floor; she turns one way, I turn the other. I hear a door open and close and turn around to see the names on the dry-erase board next to it. Yeah what, son? — You don’t want to acknowledge me? I know where you live!

Then I realized there was something very odd about this situation (besides me). One girl’s strangeness had mangled an act of courtesy into stalker behavior.

I promise I’m not a real stalker, I was only following the rules! How can you hate on someone for being a good citizen!

The rules of the gate-holding game are simple: It’s all about commitment; hesitation is for losers and the weak.

Let’s get one thing straight: no one expects you to hold the gate for them. We understand that you need to get on with your life, and we don’t really want to run ahead so that you don’t have to hold the gate as long. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow some necessary guidelines.

If you don’t want to hold the gate for someone, you have to commit to that. Then, there are two options.

Option A: Don’t look back. You can’t be held accountable for someone you didn’t see. If you’re really insecure, pretend to check something important on your cellphone. We all know you have urgent messages awaiting you at every given moment.

Option B: If you do look back, see someone, and don’t want to wait around, just throw a little acknowledgement her way. Rock a little head nod, maybe a small pinkie wave to say “I’m delightful, but I’ve got to run!” and be on your merry way.

If you’ve got time for kindness, it gets a little more complicated. First, ascertain distance. Four or five yards is usually considered close enough to solicit gate holding action. Then it’s time for astutely timed eye contact — this occurs at the three yard benchmark. If you’re going to throw in a greeting, two yards is the distance to do it; it gives the target time to respond just as they reach the gate. Beautiful.

A couple days ago, my nemesis and I met yet again at our special spot. Despite the pulls of reason, I stopped and held the gate. Call me a masochist. Let me paint a little picture: The gate is set such that the green button which opens it is just past the doorway. You must pass the gate to hit the green button and then retrace your steps to exit.

I stand holding open the gate and she walks right past me to press the green button.

Really?

At that moment, I let go and walked away. Forever.

I give up, chick. Maybe you’ll read this, maybe you won’t. But I know where you live.

Expect a fruit basket.

Kristen Ng is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.

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