SYDNEY: Just hold the door, y’all

It has been exactly a month since I moved in. I’m not pining for my family. I don’t miss my dog. (Does that make me a terrible person?) And I don’t feel like my suite is someone else’s room.

I just really want someone to hold the door.

Honestly, I never considered myself a true Southerner. Sure, I was born and raised in Dallas, but my parents are both transplants, so I spent vacations shuttling coast to coast. I never acquired even the slightest tinge of a Texas drawl, and I always choose black coffee over sweet tea.

One night during Camp Yale, someone asked me if I was from New York. I took it as a compliment and almost bashfully corrected him. It felt a little like revealing some deep dark secret.

My uprooted state has not awakened some latent desire to purchase cowboy boots or return to three-digit temperatures or hang a Texas flag above the mantelpiece in my common room. And yet I miss the little things I never really noticed.

Like having someone hold the door.

When a high school friend’s father attended Yale in the ’70s, bringing his yes ma’ams, no sirs and careful Southern manners to the newly coeducational campus, a female student confronted him: “I can hold the [expletive] door myself!” He was left standing on the landing, sputtering apologies, promising it would never happen again.

And I get it — I’m a card-carrying “no really, I’ll pay for dinner” feminist. But I’m not above what I previously believed to be common courtesy. Men of Yale — and sure, why not, women too — can you honestly not wait the five seconds it takes to let me through?

To be clear, I don’t truly think less of those who unintentionally slam doors in my face. I have learned to be okay having to swipe myself in to the Berkeley courtyard when my lunch buddies have passed through the gates without so much as a backward glance and are already halfway to the Tofu Provencal — a dish so un-Southern it may stifle any door-holding inclinations.

Yet what’s really so surprising is not the absence of the gesture but the fact that I notice its absence.

When I graduated from my all-girls high school in full-on Southern belle regalia — floor-length white dress and white hat adorned with fresh flowers — I thought I was leaving behind a tradition where advertisements for engagement rings once ran in the commencement program and shooting your first deer was a typical rite of passage.

But — and here I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — somewhere along the 18 years of Tex-Mex Sunday night dinners and drives down bluebonnet-lined highways, a little bit of Texas seeped into my being.

It shows when I smile at people I don’t know when I pass them on the sidewalk and they give me a look like, “Do I know you?” and when I’m taken aback when my suitemate’s parents introduce themselves by first name rather than Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

It shows when I accidentally refer to Shake Shack as Steak Shack and when I try to explain the agonies of this summer’s moral dilemma — to eat or not to eat at Chick-fil-A.

It shows when I take my toothbrush and toothpaste out of my monogrammed shower caddy, when I fill up my monogrammed water bottle before class, when I take notes in my monogrammed notebook and hang up reminders on my monogrammed magnet board, when I come back from my shower wrapped in my monogrammed towel and when I leave for the weekend with my monogrammed suitcase.

(Apologies to my monogrammed picture frame — I didn’t know how to fit you into the narrative — and any other monogrammed items that I may have unintentionally left unmentioned.)

Up to this point, I never knew that this Southern side existed, and I certainly didn’t think it would present itself so clearly. I expected to come to college to learn new things and have new experiences that would shape my character, but in my first weeks I’ve instead realized that a daily interaction I barely noticed at home is a part of who I am.

So call me a Southern belle, or call me old-fashioned, but please just hold the door.

Caroline Sydney is a freshman in Silliman College. Contact her at caroline.sydney@yale.edu.

Comments

  • xfxjuice

    You and a girl named Elizabeth Henry, CC ’14, should meet.

  • yalereadertoday

    How refreshing. Yale would be an even better place if freshmen held true to their values, morals and upbringing. Be open to embracing your roots, the little things do matter. Your differences, are an aspect that Yalies love to brag make Yale great; be proud of your different roots and don’t fall for the eliteness and hook-up culture, and you’ll see many more doors open in your future!

  • MW

    Ima slam a door just 2 proove how much the south sucks… nyc 2016!!

    • JG123456

      Right on, MW. Right on.

  • type_b

    I’ve had plenty of people hold open doors for me, and I’ve held open doors for other people. I’ve always thought that Yalies are pretty good about this. I sometimes think however, that it would be better for safety reasons if we didn’t hold entryway doors and gates open for other people.

    Life would be a lot smoother if everyone stuck to his or her right when passing through the doors of Woolsey Hall’s rotunda.

  • AtticusFinch

    People hold the door for each other here. Maybe not all, but I’ll usually do it. I’m from California; it’s not a regional thing.

  • Robbie

    What about those times that you see someone coming and feel like you should hold the door for them, but it turns out that they were further away than you thought and then they feel obligated to run the rest of the way to the door because you’d be holding it for too long otherwise and they’d seem impolite? And then you both feel awkward and kind of laugh nervously and then walk quickly in opposite directions? Can we all agree that those times are the worst times and should never happen?

  • yalengineer

    Heck, I held the door open all the time. Guys, girls, Professors, dogs. Feminists yelled at me, didn’t change my habits. What comes around, goes around. If I had to get into someone’s dorm, someone was always willing to let me in.

    Then I came out to peaceful relaxed California. Bloody people never hold open doors here!!!!

    • yalengineer

      There was however this one time when I held the door so hard, it bounced off the door stop and slammed straight into a girl’s face.

      That was when I ran away from a girl.