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Essay

Doors

By Samantha Loong

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Whether it's an automatic door, a sliding door or a saloon door, how people use doors has always fascinated me. Sometimes how you use a door says a lot about you.

Holding the door open for someone behind you acknowledges their existence and shows you're aware of others' needs. When I do this in Japan, people often start apologising for inconveniencing me. It's also rare that someone holds a door open for me … I wonder if this is because there are so many automatic doors here.

Slamming a door is like the full stop at the end of a sentence. It indicates that you had the final word in an argument. As one of 11 excitable and strong-willed exchange students studying in a Japanese high school in my teens, I saw many disagreements and heard many doors slammed. I often found it hard not to laugh, though. You see, at our school almost all the doors were sliding, so, as the door rebounded back open slowly, the full stop became more of an ellipsis ...

Doors allow us to escape. They allow us to find privacy. They actually allow us to walk through walls. Yet, it's interesting how little attention is paid to this object. This lack of awareness came to my attention when I was briefly back in New Zealand. I was at one of my favourite cafes late one very windy, very cold Wellington afternoon. Customers came in, seeking shelter from the elements. But they somehow managed to leave the glass door wide open, letting the weather in.

Initially, along with staff, other customers including myself, got up to close the door. Then, everyone began getting so irritated that they started yelling "Door!!" at any forgetful new customers.

I started to wonder if the door was cursed. Almost every customer entering the cafe forgot to close it. One of the people who had helped close it also left it open as they exited.

When it came to our turn to leave, I made a concentrated effort to close the door. My friend and I stood outside, saying our goodbyes, when another couple walked into the cafe. They also left the door open. I narrowed my eyes at them, went over to the door and closed it as the patrons inside erupted into cheers and applause … I was their hero.

What does this say about me? My friend said, "You're so nice," but I think the answer isn't so deep. Some use the phrase "when one door shuts, another one opens" to say that you should be optimistic. But I think, sometimes, when a door is shut, people might just want it to stay that way.

ドア

筆者は他人がどんなふうにドアを開け閉めするか、興味を持って見ている。ドアの扱い方は、時として、その人のことをよく物語るからだという。

The Japan Times ST: October 13, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年12月15日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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