New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Acts of Rudeness

A Door Drama


I have shared many stories of the good and remarkable I have found in the people of this city. I have recounted very few tales of rude or hostile behavior, not in an effort to distort the city's image, but in order not to focus on negativity. The media does a more than adequate job of covering hostile or criminal acts in New York City. In fairness, however, if we really had to do a study, I am sure that the rudeness quotient would be much higher in New York City than in a rural or suburban environment. A small incident yesterday serves as an apt example.

Upon arriving at my office building mid day, I was met with a woman engrossed in something in front of the door. The entrance way has two doors, only one of which is available for access in and out. Let us even grant that she did not know this. She was standing only inches in front of the doorway where I had to enter. You can see this in today's photo. She made no effort to move at all. It was raining, but she could have easily just moved a couple feet in front of the adjoining door. I did not excuse myself, expecting that as I opened the door against her back, she would become aware of the situation and certainly move. Perhaps even offer the obligatory and insincere "I'm sorry." But no.

I opened the door no more than 12 inches and SQUEEZED through the opening. Apparently desensitized to humanity and anything around her, she did not move at all - it was a case of rudeness to the point of obliviousness. I turned to look at her from the back as I waited for the elevator. She was in the same position, unaware of the incident and that she was still blocking the entrance to an office building.

In the business environment, particularly business to business sales, New York City can be hostile, even with well articulated policies of apparent rudeness, such as a sign posted on a door stating: "NO STUDENTS AFTER 1 PM" - see the story here. Admittedly, with the hordes of people in such a large city, brusque behavior towards others can easily develop. However, it is not a fait accompli, and many businesses with the same streetside exposure to masses of shoppers do not become hostile to their customers. New York City just demands a little more effort to stay on the polite side of the line.

Typically, I would become quite irritated by an experience such as this door drama. However, I now view any extreme acts, whether kindness or rudeness, as an opportunity for my writing. Using this website as a forum, the negative incidents can be defused through public ventilation and discourse. At the same time, on occasion, it provides an opportunity to illuminate New York's more extreme behaviors and Rather than Respond with Road Rage, just Report these Random Acts of Rudeness...

20 comments:

Sérgio Pontes said...

The photo is really amazing, i love it

Meg said...

I visited NY last summer from the UK. I live in a city here so I get my fair share of rudeness so I felt pretty prepared for any in NY.
I was standing near ground zero on some steps and this little old man was making his way towards me. I was about to move out his way when he told me 'Get the fuck out of my way.'
I was so shocked! He looked so sweet from a distance!

Chicken Underwear said...

Is being oblivious the same as being rude? Maybe this person had some sort of disability, maybe not.

And Meg; Do you have any idea how the people who were here on September 11, 2001 feel when tourist come to "stand near ground zero"? Give the little old man a break.

Chicken Underwear said...

Sorry Meg. I am having a bad day.

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Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Brian, I think your door blocking woman wasn't being rude, just oblivious. She could well be from Minneapolis. The city pastime there seems to be leaving a store or restaurant and stopping immediately outside the door with your friends to talk. Or gathering in the middle of a jogging path or bike trail for the same purpose. Clueless herding behavior.

Naomid said...

Ha, oh the people in this building are so rude. Seriously would it kill them to hold the elevator door sometime? The answer seems to be yes.

I'm so tempted to post this article on certain companies FB page, but I have real work to do!!

Brian Dubé said...

Terry B - you may be right, however her obliviousness would have to include bodily insensitivity. To get in, I had to push the door against her back. I'm not sure what it would take to get someone like this to notice something outside their world.

Brian Dubé said...

Naomid - The problem Naomi, is that you are a decent and considerate person :)

bittabuffalo said...

In all fairness there are two sides to this story. Perhaps the old woman is now telling her friends, "There I was, minding my own business, in a doorway to stay out of the rain. Along comes this rude man who opens a door into my back and squeezes by me without as much as an 'excuse me'". I think older people are often pushed around and treated as obstacles. I also think that busy people in cities have grown to expect others will move around them or clear the way in some sort of choreographed dance. From her perspective you may well have been the rude one. You assumed she would just clear the way, and when she didn't, you treated her as an inanimate object instead of addressing her as a person and asking her if she would step aside.

Brian Dubé said...

Bittabuffalo - this woman was young - 20s-30s at best. She was astute enough to be multitasking, using a smartphone. I did not squeeze by her, I went around behind her. I made a supreme effort not to shove the door in her back - this is why I squeezed. It barely made contact if that. Asking a woman like this to step aside will often be met with hostility in my experience. So I avoided it even though she was blocking the only entrance. She could have moved about 2 feet to her left to the unused doorway. If she was paying any attention to the people around her, she would have seen that.

brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naomid said...

@bittabuffalo, Brian is being nice. This sort of thing is a daily happening. The building is especially full of trendy people who totally look like old ladys from behind.

If I ever have the guts to confront this character I will be sure to mention that people online thought she dressed like an old lady when her lack of manners was exposed in this post.

@Brian, thanks, manners were drilled into me. I still feel guilt for saying "Can I" rather than "May I"

Mary P. said...

Try being a person with a cane and a mobility problem. Many people, especially young ones barge straight ahead and expect you to step out of their way. They seem to feel that the person moving the fastest has the right of way. Some times I have to come to a screeching halt because I cannot react quickly enough. Then I get a dirty look.
Many people speed up to go in front and cut you off when they could easier go behind you. Bicycle riders also veer in front of you when, if they just kept their trajectory, they would go straight behind you with no hindrance to them.
This behavior completely mystifies me.

George said...

This can happen anywhere, and certainly does in my city, regardless of whether it was an act of rudeness or obliviousness. Methinks possibly the former. But then I do enjoy the odd evil thought from time to time.

Your writing is excellent. Thank you.

NYfan said...

I don´t want to criticise you, Brian, but did you try to talk to her? A lot of people don´t even care what´s going on around them unless someone is bothering THEM! Sometimes I´m in the mood jusdt to "provoke" these people by asking "... would you kindly let me pass?" - Gosh! If looks could kill ...

renlgs303 said...

I would have pushed the door all the way, then cursed the bitch for good measure... and that's New York too!

TheKrisHil said...

I've had many friends ask me if the people of NYC are indeed rude. They are always a bit taken aback when I reply "No." My experience has been that they're a little brusque or impatient, but not rude.
Being from the South, it's hard to fathom unwarranted rudeness. It doesn't mean we don't have rude people here. Just that they aren't as prevalent as elsewhere.

--Kristina

Anonymous said...

Eh?

What an odd post. Why on earth didn't you sya 'Excuse me please?' That is the generally accepted way of dealing with someone blocking your path.

Brian Dubé said...

Anonymous - I could not say excuse me since she was on the other side of a closed door. I would have had to squeeze partially out and tell her from behind. At that point I was already out so I just left. Why say excuse me when I have already gotten around her? At that point it would have been interpreted as classic sarcasm - saying excuse me after the fact.