Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Redux: An Open Letter To Automatic Doors That Do Not Open Automatically When I Approach

Recently, I submitted this open letter to McSweeney's about an ongoing problem--automatic doors and me and the fact that they do not open when I approach.  My piece saw the same fate that most writing does.  Rejection.  However, I've got to thank McSweeney's because the rejection was actually personalized.  The rejector apologized for passing and then sweetly stated, "here’s hoping the doors get your message eventually."

What's the message?  Here's the letter so you can see for yourself.

Dear Automatic Doors:

I have only one simple question: why don’t you open when I walk up to you?

More and more frequently in recent months, I find myself dreading the walk-up to a set of you doors that have an electronic eye attached to motion detectors to make you open. More and more frequently, I stand in front of you and nothing happens. Actually, that's not true. What happens is I stand in front of you and you remain closed. Then I don't know what to do.

Sometimes I take one step back and then forward again. You do not open.

Sometimes I shuffle side to side. You do not open.

Sometimes I step aside and wait for someone else to exit or enter so I can slip through, ninja-style. You open, but begrudgingly. Apparently, you also have something against ninjas.

Sometimes I relent and walk away as you remain closed.

I have yet to flail my arms around, direct my face at the camera, and shout, “Hey, let me in! I only need a banana and some Kleenex!” I’ve been on the verge of doing so, but it may look ridiculous. Then again, I look kinda ridiculous standing in front of closed doors, watching longingly through the glass at the happy shoppers with their carts, hoping that you'll open. And I also look kinda ridiculous doing the hokey-pokey-sidewalk-shuffle.

And again, I probably look ridiculous walking up to a set of closed doors, waiting, and then walking away for a reason not apparent to anyone else around—those innocents, unaware of our unspoken standoff that you have begun.

I'm not talking about one particular set of you. This refusal of entry has occurred in many places: at CVS, at work, in supermarkets, at several places in Denver. It’s as if you have a national network through which you’ve sent out an APB with a screenshot of me in half a side-shuffle with the caption: Do Not Open Up For This Little Woman No Matter What Movement She Makes.

At first, I thought that was the reason: maybe I'm not tall enough. I contemplated getting stilts or a pogo stick. I contemplated taking up with the Harlem Globetrotters, begging them via Instagram to accompany me wherever I go just in case I need to go from the outside world into a building. 

Before making these circus-like purchases and borderline-sane requests, I realized, no, it can’t be my 4 foot 10 inch frame. Adults in wheelchairs for whom some of you doors are specifically installed (like the one at work at the top of the wheelchair ramp) can get you to open without a problem.

I’ve also seen many small children, 4 foot 10 and under, who like motion detectors. They can make you open and close and open and close and open and close and open and close. You seem to actually enjoy the game although store managers and moms do not find it as entertaining.

So while I would like to think that no one and nothing in this world could possibly hate me aside from several students who failed that one semester of comp and perhaps a waiter in Denver, I’m beginning to realize that you might not like me. If that’s the case, I would really like to know why, so that I could make it up to you and you could open for me again. And yes, I realize, I look kinda ridiculous asking automatic doors to have a sit down and hug it out, but what’s more ridiculous is pushing a shopping cart up to the local A&P and waiting there until someone else decides it’s time to get some milk.

I’ll be awaiting your reply. Out in the parking lot.

Hopefully yours,

The doors?  Have not gotten my message.  Within days, the pesky automatic door in the S building on campus closed on me.  You know how automatic doors usually pop back open immediately upon striking something?  Yes, well, this one did not.  It bumped into me, I jostled back and forth, and then, and THEN, it hit me again.  I shit you not.  Just one more ram into me for old time's sake.  I stumbled out of the doorway unharmed save the embarrassment of semi-animate non-rational objects getting the better of me, a human being with several advanced degrees and a career in higher ed. 

Clearly, this is McSweeney's fault.  Clearly.

So no, they haven't gotten the message, at least not up until eventually now. I suppose I'll keep waiting. Outside. Still.

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