That door can be your portal to act of kindnessRecently on television I saw a commercial featuring a row of people who grinned as they held a swinging door open for a stranger. I nudged my mom and said, “We used to do that.” I meant back in California, where we used to live. She nodded and said, “Yeah, until we came to Korea. But people here are starting to do the same these days, I guess because of that.” She pointed at a guy on TV whose message to viewers was: “Have a good time.”
“Right,” my mom snorted. “When we first came here, people didn’t even thank you for holding the door open for them.”
“I know,” I said. “I was so surprised when people would just let the door swing back and hit me.” I smiled, remembering how I had felt so offended.
That was a while ago, but since then, I, too, have given up on holding doors for people I do not know. My justification? I found it hard to keep on with the custom I had learned in America when nobody here recognized the gesture and rushed ahead through the door not aware -- or not caring -- some one might be right behind them.
And it was not just the doors. The TV spot got mom and me thinking about all of the little cultural shocks we experienced after moving here. “You know how we try to stand in line to get on the bus?” I said. “Good luck, there is no line!”
“Sure there is,” my mom said. “One for each person.” Perhaps out of maternal instinct, she then admonished me about the need to be polite ― even when those around us are not. Of course I nodded in agreement, but I was not really listening.
About a week later, I decided to roam the mall with my friends for some Christmas shopping. I got to the mall late and rushed through the heavy glass door, leaving it almost swinging off its hinges. I then heard a muffled yelp, and then my name.
Surprised, I spun around to find one of my friends, who was also late for our appointment, rubbing her red finger. Her outstretched hand had gotten caught in the violently swinging door. I apologized, stuttering about how I normally would have held the door open for the person behind me, but you know, I was in a hurry.
“Besides,” I said, “nobody holds doors anymore.”
She threw me a reproachful glance and said, “Haven’t you seen that commercial on TV?”
by Sunnie Wie
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