Saturday, June 4, 2011

Born in a barn? - I'll take Door #1.

Remember hearing "Were you born in a barn?" any time you left a door open? Back when I was younger it was an expression used to train people to close doors behind them. Parents of course used it but even complete strangers would ask "Were you born in a barn?" if you didn't shut a door when entering or leaving a room or building.

There are lots of good reasons for closing a door, especially one you had to open first... keep the cold & bugs outside, the pets & small toddlers inside, security, privacy etc. It seemed, back then, that closing doors was an expected thing to do and often even considered within the realm of 'manners' - it was good manners to close a door, bad manners to leave it open.

That's how it used to be anyway. Today, things are different. It seems many people no longer consider leaving doors open a bad thing. It's no longer bad manners to not close a door, or maybe calling someone out for not doing so is nowadays... Is vocalizing the rhetorical question "Were you born is a barn" considered bad manners now?

Is taking umbrage with anyone's actions the only form of bad manners left in this new "Me first" world we live in, a society where leaving doors open, spitting on the sidewalk, swearing in public, butting into line-ups and countless other things once considered bad manners are now commonplace?

I live in an apartment building. It's what rental companies like to refer to as a "secure building" because you need a key to gain entry; either that or you must be 'buzzed in' by a tenant or the building manager. This security measure is to ensure our little building community, the apartments serving as people's homes, all have some collective line of first defense to keep out the undesirable elements roaming the city... criminals, canvassers, salesmen, Jehovah Witnesses etc.

Inside the building there are additional secured doors. The storage locker area and laundry room both require additional key entry so just getting into the building doesn't grant access to those areas. (Keeps the salesmen, criminals and Jehovah Witnesses from rummaging through boxes of Christmas ornaments, broken appliances and old books or trying on your underwear fresh and warm from the dryer.)

Having locks on the building's entry points and common-use areas makes sense and these doors should remain closed for good reason. So too should the stairway doors since most of them are designed, in part, to always be closed for reasons of fire suppression and building ventilation system function. Apartment doors should also remain closed to ensure one's cooking odors, noise, pot or cigarette smoke etc doesn't fill the hallway or seep into other people's units.

Keeping doors closed not only makes sense, it's good manners... a consideration to others who might not share your taste for fried fish, Metallica, Colombian Gold or neglected cat boxes. Closing the doors is also a moral obligation not to compromise the safety and security of the community that is the building's inhabitants.

Past experience having demonstrated the best way to keep doors closed is to ensure they will naturally assume that position at rest, all the doors in the building are fitted with a device that will close the them automatically. It's a good system but it only works when people don't purposely screw with it.

A common occurrence is people using some kind of object to hold a door open. This most often happens at the two main entry points to the building and the most used object to hold the door open is a rock from the building's garden area. I understand people doing this while moving in or out of the building - who wants to fight with opening a door while carrying a couch or box of kitchen utensils? I can even sorta understand those who do it while unloading a trunk load of groceries.

What I don't get is why, when they're done moving whatever with multiple trips through the door, they don't close it to return things to the way they were designed and intended to be for the greater good of everyone in the building. Some people do (although hardly anyone ever returns the rock to where they got it, they usually just kick it aside thus creating either a whole new issue or a handy device for the next person to jam the door open - depends how you look at it) but most people just leave the door wide open.

I know enough about human nature and behavior to understand why someone moving out of the building could walk away leaving the door they jammed open as an invitation for anyone to enter. After all, they don't live here anymore and have no further interest in the building's security. It's a pretty good indication that they probably never recognized they were part of a distinct community while living in this building... that they probably only ever think of themselves. I don't particularly like that way of thinking because I find it a symptom of the further decay of our ability as a species to live in close proximity with each other but I get it.

It's harder to understand why the people who are moving in or already live here don't close the entry doors once completing the task that prompted jamming them wide open . They are still here, in this building. Even if they don't recognize their reality as one piece of the whole collective community of building residents, even if they think only of themselves, even if they were in fact born in a barn... wouldn't they, on a subconscious level get an instinctual animal-in-its-den gut feeling recognizing the need for security, a security offered by the simple act of closing a door?

Thanks for reading. Please close the door behind you on your way out.

1 comment:

  1. I actually was born in a barn. so it is ok for me to leave doors open :P