By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 22, 2015
James Baigrie

Yesterday I had two situations where I was walking through the door behind a stranger, and rather than the stranger holding the door open for the next person, she let it close in my face. Now, I realize I work in New York City, which some people consider to be the I Don’t Care About You capital of the world. And so I wasn’t surprised the first time it happened, as I was exiting the train station, everyone was in a rush, and I had absolutely no connection to the person in front of me. But when someone who works for the same company let the door close in my face after a presentation later in the day, I began to wonder if this is a trend.

Where I come from, when you walk through a door, you look behind you to make sure there is no one coming along whom you can hold the door for. That’s just how it’s done, just like you don’t put your napkin on the table until the meal is over, because no one around you wants to look at your dirty linens. And when you pay for something at the grocery store, you say “Thank you” to the cashier as she hands you your change and she says “Thank you” to you in return. (This, I hasten to add, rarely happens anymore. In my large-grocery-store experience, most cashiers could not care less whether I have given their employers their business and certainly are not going to thank me for anything.)

Am I cranky today because it’s still winter in the capital of I Don’t Care About You, or am I just sad that civilized society seems to be an increasingly quaint notion? Probably a bit of both, but more the latter. My middle son is someone who frequently forgets to hold the door for the next person, and if I want to accomplish anything in life, it’s to get him to learn otherwise. As of now, each time he forgets I have this little motherhood panic, thinking “Am I forgetting to teach him the things that matter!?!?!” Sigh. Apparently I am not alone.