Monday, March 4, 2013

The Chivalrous Man... A Dying Breed?

Over the last 10 years or so there seems to have been a steady decline in the manners of men and women, but particularly men.   Chivalry seems to be all but dead in this country.  I was raised to respect women and treat them accordingly.  You know – little things like opening doors and holding chairs and walking on the outside on a sidewalk or busy street to protect her.  Just as with my elders, women were supposed to be respected at all times.

That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.   Today I saw something that reminded me of the true lack of respect many men have for women these days.  But before I talk about it I’ll talk about other things that have led me to this conclusion.

When I worked in the bakery/bistro in Columbus, Ohio, in 2009, I got a chance to people-watch, particularly on weekends when it was really busy.  Our kitchen was right by one of the main entrances to the North Market and my regular work station was in a position where I faced the door.  So I got to see people coming and going all day long.  One of the things I noticed was men and women arriving together and the man opening the door, walking in and letting it shut behind him.  His wife (or girlfriend) had to open the door herself – even if she was carrying a child.  This would happen with all colors and races of people and would happen on a regular basis.

I knew the couple was together by watching them in the market.  It’s not that big and you can see down most of one side from the counter there where I worked.  Often they’d stop by for coffee or a cookie, as ours was the best coffee in the market.  (That's Expressly Market Bakery and Bistro in the North Market in Columbus, Ohio.  A little plug for my friends who own it.)  So often I could watch these people interact and it wasn’t difficult to discern the ones who were a couple.  And even if they weren’t – I was also taught that if I open a door for myself and there is a woman or an elderly person approaching the door I hold it for them and allow them to pass through.  Apparently these men I was observing either didn’t get that lesson in life or choose to ignore it.

When I worked in the warehouse at Sears in Florida it was the same way.  The entrance to the warehouse was by one of the busy store entrances so, when I wasn’t busy, I would watch people.  The outside doors were automatic but the inside doors, that went into the store, were not.  And they were heavy glass and metal doors.  I’d see couples park and get out of their cars and the man would walk several steps ahead of the woman, entering through the automatic doors and proceeding through the inner doors into the store, leaving the woman to fend for herself.  If I wasn’t busy with a customer I would step over and open the door for the woman, who was oftentimes dealing with a child or two.

Today I was driving several blocks from our home and saw a couple walking along the sidewalk on a side street.  The crossed a busy road at an intersection and there was no sidewalk on that side.  I made a left turn and looked for them in the mirror.  The man had stepped up onto the curb and was walking in the grass, about two feet from the road.  The woman was walking in the road facing heavy oncoming traffic that included large semi-trucks.  I couldn’t help but think that the man should have insisted the woman walk up on the curb.  But then – it is possible the woman was walking there by choice.

I knew a woman in Miami who told me not to open her door for her.  She wasn’t a feminist – she just saw it as unnecessary and said she was fully capable of opening her own door.  I didn’t pursue it.  What would have been the point?  But I know all women don’t feel that way.  Arden loves it.  She said no man has ever really done that for her before.  So I open her door for her every chance I get.  And remote control car door locks have made it much easier!  If she gets to the door before I do I just don’t push the unlock button until I’m there! 

Ladies – please don’t give up on allowing men to do things for you.  Most of us enjoy it and enjoy making you feel special.  I’m disappointed that treating a lady like a lady seems to be a dying art – just like common courtesy and respect.  Let’s bring them all back before the nation and the world gets any worse!

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