06 July 2010

Etiquette: Will I Ever Get It Right?

Even though I lived as a woman for more than five years before I had my surgery, sometimes I don't think I'll ever understand etiquette--as it applies to either or both sexes.

I still reflexively hold doors and give up my seat when I see a woman who's pregnant, seems older or is simply burdened in some way that I'm not.   And, to me, it makes all the more sense to give my seat to an elderly or pregnant woman on a day as hot as today was.

Granted, the air conditioning was working perfectly on the train I rode to work--though, I must say, it somehow made me even more conscious of just how hot it was today.  And somehow it made me feel even more compelled to give up my seat to a pregnant woman who was standing a few feet away from me.

When I got up and gestured for her to sit, she looked baffled.  Now, I never have been and never will be pregnant, but I would imagine that at a very late stage of the pregnancy--which is where, chronologically, that woman seemed to be--I would probably want any available seat.

Now, I know that, at least in this culture, women aren't expected to offer their seats or hold doors open for other women.  But, I guess that because I was inculcated so deeply and at such an early age with  the expectation that I would offer what seem, to me, to be normal courtesies, I revert to such behavior.  Plus, it just seems like common sense that I could help, in whatever small way, someone who is having  a slightly tougher time than I'm having. 

But if you wanted to see real bewilderment, that came later, on my way to class:  After entering a stairway, I held the door to it open for a young man who'd been walking a few yards behind me from the time we got off the train.  I just don't think it's cool to drop a door in someone's face.  But, I think that young man wasn't accustomed to having a door held open for him by anyone, much less some middle-aged woman!