Roberta Whitney Hughes
Letter to the Gentleman I Didn’t Hold the Door for on Friday
I would like to formally introduce myself. My name is Roberta and I live in Parker, Colorado.
I informally met you just a few days ago on Friday. I am sorry to say that you did not get the best version of me that day. I was walking out of the clinic, looking down at my phone and pushing the door open with my foot. As I let my foot go from the door, I looked up and saw you. I froze. The door slammed shut.
“Thanks for nothing,” you said.
“I am so sorry,” I replied.
“Weren’t you raised with any manners?” you asked.
“I’m sorry,” was all I could say.
For you, this may not have been a big deal. Perhaps this was a simple exchange that didn’t phase you at all. Well, it phased me. While I couldn’t tell you what you were wearing that day, or even what you look like, I could describe in detail the look of disgust in your eyes. And it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. So I decided to write this letter to tell you more about me.
I am a mom who was raised with impeccable manners. I have raised my children to have them, too. In fact, if our paths had crossed just eight weeks ago, you may have been impressed by my manners. Back then, I was the person who never walked through a doorway looking at my phone. I would always look behind me and in front of me to see if anyone was coming. If I saw a person, even if they were ten feet away, I would wait and hold the door. I was the person who would notice a mom juggling her baby stroller, small kids, and shopping bags at the mall, then speed up to open the door for her. If someone dropped something, I was the first person to notice then pick it up and hand it back.
You see, Sir, looking out for others and offering help is a big part of who I am and how I was raised. Or at least it was eight weeks ago. If you had met me then, I would have realized my mistake immediately. I would have run back to get the door for you. And I would have smiled. I bet you would have smiled, too. I even bet you would have said “thank you.”
But it’s not eight weeks ago. It’s now and everything has changed. For the past eight weeks, I have been in my home sheltering in place. My sole mission has been to keep myself and my family healthy and safe. I have had minimal outings and have felt stressed and uneasy every time I have ventured out. So, last week, when our state moved from Shelter in Place to Safer at Home, I was a bit lost.
That is the me you got to meet. The lost me. The confused me. The overwhelmed and uncertain me. You met the me who was too afraid to wait in the waiting room because there were other people in there. You met the me who was preoccupied with the details of making sure my face mask was secure, making sure my hands were washed and sanitized, and making sure I didn’t touch any surfaces that may not be sanitized. You met the me who did not want to touch the door that so many people were using that day.
As I close this letter, Sir, I have two requests for you. My first request is that you find it in your heart to accept my apology and forgive my missing manners on Friday. My second request is that you have a bit more patience and empathy for other people like me who might be feeling uncertain and anxious about getting out again. We are trying our best to stay healthy and safe, and, quite honestly, it feels a bit scary.
Maybe you, kind Sir, who recognizes good manners, could offer a little kindness and forgiveness to those of us who need it?
Roberta Whitney Hughes