Imagine my delight when a major concern over etiquette is finally resolved:
6 June 2001
The Sunday Times
1 Pennington Street
London E98 1ST
Dear Mrs Mills,
Revolving doors are in constant conflict with courtesy and common sense. As I cannot hold a stationary revolving door “open” for a lady, should I still let her go first although then she makes all the effort to get the door going, or follow her and run the risk of pushing the door over her heels? If the door is already revolving, should I precede her to show it’s safe although at the risk of terrifying her with the resultant speed from my superior strength, or follow her to extricate her handbag if it gets caught? These gargantuan automatic doors at supermarkets and airports are even worse. Should I precede her to prevent her the embarrassment of tripping the beam which halts the motor, or follow her and pull her back if she looks like getting close? I’m going round in circles on this.
My solution (when not parking the car or nipping back for something I think she forgot) has been to follow her on manual doors while holding them back to give her a bit of needed exercise, and to precede her on automatic doors by making her push the supermarket or airport trolley (women just love driving these things, must be the maternal instinct). Do you think I’m following a suitable protocol?
And her reply? 12 August 2001
Life’s Too Short
I have shortened your letter because it was sapping me of the will to live. I would like you to spend the next few weekends sitting by revolving doors recording users’ habits and to let us know the results of your survey, not because it will serve any purpose, but simply as a punishment for wondering about this question in the first place and then writing to me at length about it. Anyway, there is really no answer, because, with a revolving door, you can enter first and still come out last by staying in for another revolution.