I’m Old School, I Use the Door Handle

I’ve identified another generation gap/quirk between me in my 40’s and THEM in their 20’s!

I consider myself to be fairly ‘hip’ or at least ‘clued-in’ on the acceptable actions and inactions of the younger generation.  (Perhaps the fact that I use the words ‘hip’ and ‘clued-in’ are indicators that I’m not.  Whatever.)

Since I work on a college campus I see lots of young people daily and quite frankly, they’re really not much different than I was at their age.   Sure, they have way more gadgets, spend far too much time ‘gaming’ and texting, perhaps aren’t quite as healthy – but they’re a good lot.  They still love their mothers, study occasionally, skip a few classes, party Thursday nights and chase the girls (OK, the boys too!).  However, they’ve developed a peculiar action that I don’t quite…get.

They have a problem using their arms and hands to open doors.

I don’t know when it started, but it seems fairly recent – I’d say in the last three to five years.

Anytime they approach a door with an automatic handicap open button, they engage the device.  Every time.  Without hesitation.   They don’t even feign guilt and peer over their shoulders to see if anyone disapproves or if the coast is clear to proceed.

Oddly, I don’t sense any remorse from them for using a device that was obviously not designed with them in mind.  They just reach out, slap the round metal handicap disc and proceed as if entitled to this service.

Just the other day I had some young buckaroo walk in front of me and slap the disc on the locker room door at the gym.  At the gym!   At the gym!?  I know working out can be strenuous, but surely you’ve maintained enough strength to open the door to the locker room!

OK – maybe I’m making too big a deal out of this.  I mean, if there’s an electronic device available, why not use it, right?  We use escalators, elevators and moving sidewalks, why not electronic doors?

To me the automatic door is designed for handicapped people who are struggling to get through, and they’re the only ones authorized to use it.

There’s a handicap symbol right on the disc!  Surely that’s an indicator of who’s authorized to use it!

Of course, there is an exception to ‘you-can’t-use-that-because-it’s-marked-handicapped’ rule.  And that’s the bathroom.  I must admit, I will use the handicap toilet in a heart beat.  I don’t mean cutting in front of a guy waiting in a wheelchair, but if  it’s available…  (I consider a bodily function a temporary handicap – kinda like crutches for a sprained ankle.)

Slapping that disc is like cruising around in a wheelchair when you’re not hurt, or using the electronic cart at Walmart when you’re perfectly capable of walking.

We shouldn’t park in the handicap spots and we shouldn’t use the electronic door unless we are handicapped.

The whole thing borders on civil disobedience and I believe Ms. Manners would agree with me that it’s definitely a violation of etiquette.

Why not just reach out, grab the handle, open the door and proceed.  It actually takes longer to stand there and let that door open in super slow motion electronically, then it does to just use your God-given strength and open the door.

Go ahead, check me on this the next time you’re entering and exiting public buildings.  That familiar metallic slap on the handicap disc is not coming from a struggling pedestrian.  It’s coming from a  perfectly healthy 20 something (usually male) who somehow lost the ability to use his hands and arms to open a door.

Don’t get me wrong, love the 20 somethings.  But like the Tyrannosaurus rex, your arms can become very small when not used.  Despite massive jaws and huge legs, the lack of arm use can lead to shrinkage and eventually…extinction.   It happened to T. rex and I’m starting to see a small arm trend.

So let’s encourage the youngsters to use those hands and arms when opening those massive public doors and help save the next generation!

Use it or lose it!  I’m just sayin’!


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