{No} Thank you, Kind Sir

The last five years living in Southern California have created a void in my life — I don’t own any warm coats.

None. Nada. Zilch.

You may, or may not, know that we are in the midst of the Great Tropical Storm of Ought Eleven. Rain is coming down in bucketfuls.

And I don’t have a coat.

Another thing you may, or may not, know is that people from Seattle don’t use umbrellas. In fact, if you live in Seattle and use an umbrella you are viewed as a tourist. Real Northwesterners wear coats with hoods…and dodge the raindrops.

On a quick run to the store for more Fat Baby Milk (because Ezra cannot go to sleep without drinking at least two sippy cups full), I shivered in my light spring 3/4-sleeve jacket WITHOUT A HOOD.

Leaving the comfort of my heated-seat cocoon,  I prepared to make a run for the glass sliding doors. Before I’d gone two steps, Elderly Gentleman came up behind me and held his umbrella over my head.

“Here, Ma’am. Allow me.”

Somewhat surprised by the gesture — and the use of ma’am; am I old enough for ma’am? — I laughed and joked with Elderly Gentleman about my state of origin and our lack of umbrella usage.

“But, you’re a woman, and you should have an umbrella.”

By then we’d reached the door, and I thanked him for the use of his covering. As I headed towards the produce section, I realized how unintentionally rude I had been. Elderly Gentleman had given up his comfort for me, and I’d scoffed at it.

What is it in me that spurns courteous behavior? Why am I embarrassed by kind gestures? How come I can’t just accept it and say thank you?

I would not categorize myself as a feminist, but I think I need to take some lessons in being a lady.

Allow my husband to open the door to the car for me, instead of brushing it off as silly.

Welcome the assistance of my neighbor when he offers to help me when my arms are full, rather than joke about how I just got balanced.

Be grateful for the men who were brought up as gentlemen, and not ridicule them for the act.

They say chivalry is dead, but it might be because I killed it.

Ladies, do you have a problem accepting chivalrous gestures?

Gentlemen, how do women react when you treat them as ladies?

Do you use an umbrella?

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37 Comments

  1. I am quite a bit older than you Melissa (58) so i was brought up in an age when men held doors open, held a chair for a lady, stood when one entered the room or came to the table, etc. I still do those things as often as I can. Just yesterday I came out of a quick shop with a Polar Pop in my hand for my wife and held the door for about 5 young ladies (who came out of a Department of Corrections Bus) and NOT ONE OF THEM SAID THANKS. So i was my gentlemanly self and said, “You’re welcome.” They just went on. The driver thanked me…a man. I won’t lie. It fries me when I try to be gentleman and the lady ignores me as though I don’t exist. And no…I don’t use an umbrella…although with no hair it might be a good idea. lol

    1. Melissa says:

      I DO always say thank you when anyone holds the door open for me. I’m usually out with all four of my kids, pushing a stroller and wrangling toddlers. Any assistance at that point is greatly appreciated. It’s the other things that I think I have more trouble recognizing, or accepting. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, I just feel like it’s unnecessary. Does that make sense? I forget that the gesture isn’t out of necessity, but good manners. On behalf of women everywhere, Thank you Bill. :)

  2. Ben says:

    Having lived in the West Coast the majority of my life, I have to say that now that I’m in the south people are so much more polite on both sides.

    Chivalry is expected to the nth degree, so when I hold the door open, I get a nice smile and Thank you. If I don’t, well… I always try to :)

    If I see a boy and his mother, and the boy forgets? You can rest assured he will get a thump in the ear. It’s kind of awesome.

    1. Melissa says:

      That is kind of awesome! :) I have only ever lived (been) on the west coast. I’ve never even traveled any further east than Montana. Haha! I need to get out more. :)

  3. It really grates on me when women are ungrateful for my attempts to treat them like a lady. LOTS of women will stomp through a door that I hold open and never smile, never acknowledge the act, and definitely not say “Thank you”. Heck, I hold the door for men. Doesn’t matter to me. But dadgummit, they oughtta have the decency to say Thank you. Some do. Some don’t.

    1. Melissa says:

      You’re right, Bernard, they ought to have the decency to say thank you. That is the one thing I think I’m doing ok with. Thank you, Bernard!

  4. apesydaisy says:

    Because I’ve been alone for so long, it’s hard for me to let people do anything for me. And in the same breath, I am very conscious that chivalry is just about dead and I miss it. So it’s a struggle for me to let others do for me. I like to be independent, but I think I can still be independent while allow someone to be chivalrous.

    1. Melissa says:

      That’s the tension I wrestle with as well. Honestly, there are times when I wish someone was there to help me, and people just walk right by. Rather than become bitter, I instead resign myself to doing it all on my own. Then, when someone does help, I’m embarrassed. Oh man… :)

  5. Tony Alicea says:

    “They say chivalry is dead, but it might be because I killed it.”

    I agree with that sentiment. Partially anyways. It’s a matter of being secure in who you are. I was raised to be a gentleman but I was also a pretty insecure guy growing up. When women would spur these kinds of acts, I just stopped doing it. Now that I’m more secure in who I am, I just smile and continue to do these sorts of things. I actually admonish women to “accept” what I’m doing. I’ve actually had to instruct a woman to tell me “thank you” when I complimented her beauty. I won’t let a woman brush that off. I just won’t allow it.

    We need more confident guys to step up and honor women. I have strong feelings about gender roles. When in the proper context, things just work. That’s how God created us. When it gets warped, that’s when you see chauvinists and feminists come out of the woodworks. Both of those mindsets are rooted in fear.

    1. Melissa says:

      Good for you, Tony!! I 100% agree with your statement: “when in the proper context, things just work.” Thank you for being a gentleman! :)

  6. Lynnette says:

    I have been teaching my boys to be chivalrous. They hold doors open for people, offer to carry things, and say yes ma’am and yes sir to people they do not know. You would not believe the amount of comments I get regarding this.
    and yes I do own an umbrella. Got a free one from my husbands work and it has been used maybe twice in 3 years. Only when I stood out in the pouring rain waiting with the kids for their bus

    1. Melissa says:

      You know what I’m learning from this whole discussion? Just as I’m teaching my sons to be gentlemen, I need to teach Cora to be a lady. We work on “please” and “thank you” and table manners, but I need to make sure she appreciates the gestures that we’re teaching our sons to make.

      We actually own two umbrellas — both were free. :) I have wanted to put them to use lately while picking up Eli from school, but I keep leaving them at home. haha!

  7. Justin says:

    I agree with you, Melissa. I think it’s part of our culture today. We want to do everything on our own….no help from God, no help from my husband, no help from my wife. Our culture breeds this thinking – but it doesn’t connect people. It’s also rooted in fear. We don’t want to accept help – because we might get hurt. While I understand this position – it’s still rooted in fear and as Christ lovers, that’s not how we’re called to live.

    I’d say about 50% of the time, men and women accept kind gestures….holding the door open, giving up my seat on the bus or the train. The other 50% of the time, people reject the gesture or a common response is “Oh, no thanks – I’ll just sit here” or “No, you go ahead”.

    I don’t use an umbrella – I’m a hoodies and soft shell dude. :)

    1. Melissa says:

      You’re the second person to mention fear related to this issue. I never thought of it that way, but I think you’re totally right. Accepting help is vulnerable.

      I would say that I’m frequently in the later of your two groups. My initial response is almost always, “Thanks, but I’m fine.” Ooops…I’m gonna have to work on that.

      Hoodies make my heart happy. I don’t get to wear them too often here.

  8. Jason says:

    Honestly, I don’t stop to think about how they respond to it. I just try to show courtesy and respect like that to everyone and if they don’t like it then I really don’t care. I’m supposed to be showing love and I’ll do it whether you like it or not. :)

    1. Melissa says:

      Haha! Why am I picturing you fighting an old lady for her bags. :)

  9. I know what you mean. While I always say thank you when someone holds the door for me, I have a hard time accepting other chivalrous gestures – like help with groceries, moving boxes, or checking the oil in my car. I think some of it is growing up in this culture of independence; subconsciously I’m afraid I will seem weak if I accept help. It’s silly, but true.

    And I own at least 5 umbrellas, but I never seem to have one handy when I actually need it!

    1. Melissa says:

      Fear again! So interesting. I really never would have connected the two ideas. Thanks, Jennifer!

  10. kristinherdy says:

    I do categorize myself as feminist – not really sure why it’s such a terrible connotation, but anyway, I accept nice gestures from both men and women, and offer them to men and women. Caring for each other is a mark of our love.

    I don’t have a difficult time accepting kindness, but I would probably have a problem with someone telling me that because I was a woman, I needed some comfort more than anyone else. Maybe I’m what’s killing chivalry?

    1. Melissa says:

      “Caring for each other is a mark of our love.”

      I love this! The Bible tells us we will be known by our love, and in so many ways we as Christians are failing in this area. What a great connection to make. Thanks!!

  11. Haley says:

    Great topic! Luke has always opened doors for me…There was a time when it felt uncomfortable or inconvenient to wait for him. But I realized that I needed to encourage chivalry. My mom’s side of the family is from the south so I’m use to hearing “ma’am” and I always say “thank you, sir” when someone opens a door for me…especially when it’s a little boy. I wanna encourage this behavior (especially if somebody’s mom took time and effort to teach them*)! :-D

    I agree that feminism is to blame, but I also see more women opening doors for others too, which was probably also influenced by feminism. I try to offer to help other moms when their hands are full, and open doors for anyone behind me…seems like a courtesy thing to me, not just chivalry. I don’t often have people open doors for me, but when they do, I really appreciate it (especially when I have kiddos in tow), whether it’s a man or a woman.

    I own several umbrellas…but rarely use them, and certainly not in a “public place” haha! ;-) I only use them when I have Lily in the wrap and am going for a walk around our neighborhood. Otherwise, hooded or non-, I wear a jacket and dodge. :-)

    *The other day, I was at a friend’s house. When I arrived, she had her boys stand up and greet me. It was sweet to see that those manners were important enough to her to teach. Probably not something I would have thought to do, but now I’m considering it. :-)

    1. Melissa says:

      Like I mentioned to Lynette, I’m realizing that not only do I need to teach my boys to be gentlemen, but Cora to be a lady. I liked how Kristin connected it to our status as Christians. In that light, we all should be opening doors for one another and looking out to meet each others needs. And, I guess it’s ok to use an umbrella when you’re carrying a baby. Haha! :)

  12. hannahruthie says:

    I love when men are chivalrous and I try to always say thank you. It helps that I have two brothers and my mother brought them up right in teaching them to treat women respectfully. I’ve had practice at being a lady as they have had practice at being gentlemen. It always surprises me though when men are chivalrous. It is rare these days to find young men who will hold doors and such.

    Oh, and I’m a born and raised Seattleite and I rarely go out without my umbrella on a rainy day. I think it’s silly that Seattleites think umbrellas are only for tourists. Umbrellas are for rain and we have a lot of it, so we might as well use them. :) But I didn’t have a rain jacket until last September.

    1. Melissa says:

      Haha! There’s always an exception to the rule, I guess. Just kidding. Today, I was talking to my mom, who still lives in Seattle area, and she was agreeing with me that she never bought us rain boots, raincoats or umbrellas. I always wanted them though. :)

  13. Tracie says:

    I LOVE when people hold doors for me or do chivalrous things. I grew up in the South and am trying hard to instill good manners in my children, mostly just the please and thank you. I don’t make them say ma’am and sir, but I insist on please and thank you. I do not use an umbrella. If rain is in the forecast, I make sure I take a rain coat. I think umbrellas are just hard to use, they flip inside out, they make getting in and out of the car harder. Sometimes I just run and get wet!

    1. Melissa says:

      Growing up both my husband and I called adults Mr., Mrs., or Ms. We have not had our kids do that, and it’s something I still am unsure about. For our friends our age, or the college kids who hang out, I feel it would be weird if they called them Mr. or Ms. But with the older people in our church I think it would be respectful. Is there a cut-off age, I wonder? Haha!

      And yes, umbrellas are hard to use…and they get wet. :)

  14. douglas says:

    I am not a woman and I categorize myself a feminist. I do try to take care to hold doors for the people around. It started as being kind to the ladies, and somehow it dawned on me that doing so, I was not treating the ladies equally. So I started doing the same for the guys. I get all kinds of reactions, mostly positive and sometimes funny. The only person I can think ever reacting negatively is my best friend (a guy). He is the type to not hold the door or notice to hold the door. I’m sure there are others, so I’ll have to start watching for it.

    I don’t use an umbrella, unless I’m going to be out in the rain for an extended period. Even then, it is rare.

    1. Melissa says:

      Let me know your findings, Douglas! :)

      1. Douglas says:

        Two women tonight said thanks.

        1. Melissa says:

          Yeah! :) Maybe it was because of my post. Hahaha!

  15. Janelle says:

    Maybe it’s just Puyallup, but I almost never see a missed opportunity for someone to hold open a door for someone else, male or female. And people always say thanks, or just nod.

    1. Melissa says:

      Maybe it’s because Puyallup is a small town?

  16. duane2scott says:

    I may be rude and sometimes brash online, but I hold doors open for women, offer them my chair, and call them ma’am.

    If you and I ever hang out, I’ll call you ma’am and you aren’t allowed to get offended.

    It doesn’t mean you are old.

    It means I’ve decided to give you respect.

    1. Melissa says:

      “It doesn’t mean you are old. It means I’ve decided to give you respect.”

      Love that. :)

      I never would have described you as rude or brash. I totally would have pictured you as holding open a door and giving up a seat. :)

  17. Dustin says:

    I’ll go out of the way to open doors – here in the south it’s not out of the ordinary. But when I go visit inlaws up north occasionally I’ll get a weird look. :)

  18. Larry Hehn says:

    My mother raised me to hold doors for ladies, open and close the car door for them, walk on the road side of the sidewalk, offer my seat, all that good stuff. I don’t even have to think about doing it…it’s just second nature to me. Most ladies seem very impressed, and often say so. I guess that’s because it doesn’t happen so much any more. I know my wife really appreciates it!

    1. Melissa says:

      I bet she does! Sounds like you had a great mother! :)

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