Wednesday, September 14, 2005

R.I.P. Chivalry

Aunt Jenna at The Girl Gets Away ( describes one of my pet peeves :

«Hey, fat sweaty guy, just get on the damn elevator already.

The following scenario happens to me at least once a day, and it's driving me crazy. I work in a large office building downtown, and there are a bank of elevators in the lobby. If you want to go up, sometimes you have to wait a few minutes for one to arrive. Often a small group of people will collect in front of this bank of elevators, because everyone is waiting to go up. In front of whichever elevator door opens first, a sort of loose impromptu line will form, based on where these individuals had been standing before the elevator arrived. Only, there's a catch. Instead of just getting on the damn elevator so we can all get back to whatever it is we were doing, the men will suddenly stand to one side and wave us ladies into the elevator as if they were traffic cops and the elevator was a bustling intersection with the stoplights out. They would never just get in the stupid elevator, no, they have to make a big show of what gentlemen they are. They will also perform the traffic cop gestures while actually inside a crowded elevator, which is annoying.

For instance, after the elevator has gone all the way down and is stopped in the lobby, men at the front of the elevator will not just step off the elevator and get on with their lives like normal human beings. They will attempt to squish themselves to one side so that the women at the back of the elevator can get off first. This makes absolutely no sense, and I would like them to know that I am not impressed. This is not chivalry, this is Keeping an Eye on the Womenfolk. They are herding us like sheep and we're supposed to be grateful for it. Into the elevator, out of the elevator, nipping at my heels the whole time. It is an expression of control. They decide who will get on the elevator and in what order. From a practical point of view, these exaggerated courtly gestures are completely useless. They serve no purpose other than to express one's joy in traditional gender roles. And oh, they make me feel so special. Hooray, I got into/out of the elevator .5 seconds before some mook in a suit.

If you think I'm overreacting, well, I didn't say anything the first 1,375 times it happened and I've never punched anyone over it, so I think I've exercised a great deal of restraint.»

When that situation happens with me, I would ostensibly roll my eyes, sigh loudly and shake my head à la Mr. Bean, before stepping out and walking away, visibly exasperated. Rude? You betcha! But because I’m fat and homely, what happens more often than not is that those men would step back on my toes or squeeze me with their attaché cases against the elevator wall, in their haste to let the young perky secretaries get out first, before filing out after them, since I’m invisible to their eyes.

And don’t get me going about those morons who would block the elevator doors so that they can finish their conversation with the people who just got off. That’s when I go into a rêverie, where the elevator doors would slam bang! bang! bang! on their heads.

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