I always try to behave like a gentleman, though sometimes it can be a real challenge.
I hold doors open for women, offer my seat to them when I’m riding on crowded trains or buses, and, hell, I’ll even tip my hat when standing aside for a lady. That’s the way my mother raised me and I want to honor her memory.
It just feels right, too. These actions require very little effort on my part, the women seem to appreciate it, and that, in turn, makes me feel good.
However, this bit of old school gallantry was put to a severe test recently when I was leaving my chiropractor’s office.
People yakking into their phones are a part of the modern landscape, of course, but it’s still annoying to be force-fed a one-sided conversation.
When the doors opened I did the gentlemanly thing and stepped aside to let her get on first.
She made no acknowledgement of my courtly behavior, but I’ve grown accustomed to this, and, honestly, I shouldn’t expect it, since we all know that virtue is its own reward.
I hit the button for the lobby, the doors closed and we began our descent from the 13th floor—yes, really—and plummeted straight into Hell.
“Did you see what he did to my baby’s hair?” she barked into her phone.
Why, no, I hadn’t and I didn’t particularly care. The person on the other end of the call apparently didn’t take the question seriously either as the young woman began shouting.
“It’s not funny,” she cried. “He lied! He lied to me! He cut off all my baby’s hair!”
This woman made absolutely no attempt to lower her voice or control her emotions. I was the Invisible Man as far as she was concerned as she roared into that phone like a champion hog caller.
Then she started sobbing and suddenly this 30-second trip down to terra firma became weirdly elongated like a rift in the space-time continuum. Where’s Stephen Hawking when you need him?
I’ve never had an elevator ride last so long. Obviously there was no place to hide and I couldn’t very well walk out of the room.
I toyed with the idea of pushing open the emergency door and climbing up the cables, but my back was killing me. So I just cranked my head down, stared at my shoes and prayed for this nightmare to end.
“He lied to me!”
Look Out Below
Whoever he is, God help him if he has to come home every night to this screech fest. Sir Walter Raleigh would have a tough time being chivalrous to this loon.
I started to panic. What if the elevator got stuck? This woman showed no signs of calming down, meaning that I would be trapped in here with this lady and the deafening saga of her hairless brat.
I felt terribly conflicted. On the one hand I felt badly for this woman because she was a fellow human being and she was clearly upset. But, Jesus, Mary, and Ralph, did I have to hear all about it?
We've become a society with no sense of restraint, shame or embarrassment. Everything we do is put on display like a non-stop reality show.
We all have unpleasant episodes in our lives, but it’s always best to keep them as quiet as possible and deal with them in the privacy of our own homes.
What kind of example was this woman setting for her child?
And what was the big deal? The kid got a little too much taken off the top? I’m sure your baby has plenty of hair left, lady, and, unlike me, whatever he lost today will grow back.
As the elevator came to a stop, I very briefly thought about letting this woman step out ahead of me.
But then the doors opened, my survival instincts kicked in, and I bolted free of that little tin box like a lifer crashing out of San Quentin.
The woman carried her act out into the lobby and the last thing I heard as I hurled myself at the revolving doors was her anguished cry.
“It’s not funny!”
No, madam, that’s one thing we can all agree on. This wasn’t funny by any stretch of the imagination.
I hope this lady sorts her problems out. I’m truly sorry for blowing by her like that, but she didn’t seem to notice my existence and she really left me no choice.
I’m sure Mom would understand.