Dear Aunty B
Sometimes I drive clients between the office and business meetings, user groups, lunch, coffee etc. Some of them are smart women a decade or two younger than me.
In this age of supposed gender equality, should I expect a successful business-woman in her mid-30s is perfectly capable of opening a car door? Or should I be opening the passenger side door for them? Does that make it look like a date? (That’s the very last message I would ever want to send.) Or do I look rude if I don’t?
On arrival I invariably open the door at the office or meeting-place and stand back for the client to enter first. “Open the door for a lady” was drummed into me throughout my childhood and deprogramming would be useless.
But the car door thing bugs me every time.
What? You really want to go there? Haven’t you got a business to run?
The reason for this uncommon reluctance to share my point of view on this is simple. It exposes the great hypocrisy of my sex.
Take myself for example.
I might demands equal rights, equal pay and equal representation of men to women on boards, but I regard any man that barges through a door ahead of me as rude and boorish.
On the other hand it would drive me nuts if you opened my car door.
In the time it takes for you to get out of the car, walk around to the door, open it and stand back, a smart business woman could have finished a PowerPoint presentation, done her online banking, reapplied her lipstick and scribbled out a shopping list.
So here is the rule. If it’s easy and you don’t have to think about it, do it. Most men open doors for women and then stand back and let them enter first. (Pity men don’t exhibit the same courtesy on the career ladder.)
But if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it will make a business woman feel uncomfortable. That goes for car doors. I cannot think of a single woman (apart from my great grandmother and she is dead) who would regard you as rude for not opening a car door.
As for dating… have I missed something? When has opening a car door for someone been interpreted as a “date”? I think you are confusing the good old days when you parked, leant over and locked the door to stop you both falling out.
Enough reminiscing and back to business. How’s your budget forecast going for next year?
Yours, Aunty B.
C.B. replies: Thanks Aunty – your answer is a hoot! One day far in the future, (when you finally qualify on age grounds), there’s a role waiting for you on GOW. As I suspected – the old hypocrisy exposed. It’s not so much dealing with hypocrisy that’s a problem, it’s knowing who’s got hypocrisy and who hasn’t. Oh, and my budget is done, thanks.
Jenni Munro writes: My dear Aunty B. How long since you did the green thing and caught a train? That would surely open your eyes to the manners of the contemporary male. In the afternoons, numerous well presented corporate specimens – mostly males aged from around 40 to 55+ – line up to get first shot at the doorways to the incoming trains. Fair enough – so do the women. But it’s the males who go in like it’s a scrum using feet, shoulders, elbows and big heavy bags to physically shove women out of the way so they get first choice of seating for the ride home. Many of these endearing creatures then grab two seats – one to prop their bodies on and the other for their laptop, bag and other paraphenalia. The really irritating thing is that the majority of these ill-mannered bullies are of an age where they presumably would have learned basic courtesy at home and at school. Getting though the traffic in your car can be tedious and very un-cool – but at least you arrive home without bruises on your legs and arms!