Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, but I feel I was treated very disrespectfully the other day and I want to get your take on it. Wanting to quickly purchase a cup of coffee to sip while driving, I went to a local restaurant where they serve good ones!

I opened the door, as I often do, for the person who was right behind me. He proceeded to the counter ahead of me and placed an order for take-out that took quite a while to assemble. He neither thanked me for opening the door nor did he suggest I go first, which I think would have been fair since I actually was at the door first!!

My quick cup of coffee took about 7 minutes. That doesn’t sound like much on paper, but I think I was boiling more than the coffee had been.

Java Joe, White Stone

Dear Java Joe, I get it. You felt like the man didn’t care beans about you, and you were so steamed that you had to grind your teeth to keep from creaming him!

I don’t want to make light of this situation, though. I know how stunning it can be to be the one left dealing with someone else’s arrogant behavior. Your story is another illustration of why manners continue to be important; everyone in our lives likes to be treated with respect. The rub is that the man you helped expected it but he did not return it.

The man you deferred to was not a gentleman in this situation. The rule of etiquette is that if someone who is not accompanying us opens the door for us we should step aside after entering and allow him or her to go ahead.

However, Java Joe, you get sincere kudos for not acting on your ire. In the future, should you continue to open doors for others, which I strongly recommend, and you are in a rush yourself, say something like this to the other person: “May I order first? I’m in a hurry and would really appreciate it.”

No matter what the response, you will have done the right thing and deserve to enjoy a croissant with that coffee.

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at