Doorknob Etiquette

The other night as I was tiptoeing around so as not to wake the baby, I was reminded of something minor that I used to spend a lot of time being mad about and have not had to be mad about in some time, and then remembering it, I got mad all over again, and it’s this:

Doors are loud to open and shut, but mostly because the sticky-outy part of the latch makes a big loud noise if you don’t take care for it not to. But! It is very easy to take care for it not to, and if you do that, it’s very quiet to open and shut a door. If you turn the knob all the way before moving the door and then hold the knob while you open or shut the door, and then release the knob slowly in the opposite direction, the door doesn’t make any noise. So if someone is sleeping in the room you’re going into or out of, you should hold the doorknob. It’s just basic consideration.

No one ever taught me any of this; it just made sense to me intuitively, because I’m aware of when other people are sleeping and that they would prefer not to be woken up, and that a door latch chunking is definitely going to wake them up. I’m not even an especially considerate person! Some very patient friends of mine had to teach me how to be considerate in my early 20s, because I simply was not. But I always put this together about the doorknob.

The thing is, though: nobody else I have ever met has ever thought to hold the doorknob when someone is sleeping. I have lived with family and then with an endless variety of roommates of all walks. All these people thought of themselves as good, polite, thoughtful citizens, sometimes to an absolute fault. Most of them considered me as at best a work in progress; at worst, a bitch. But NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER HELD A DOORKNOB IN THEIR LIVES.

When I lived with people and was trying to sleep, I deeply resented this, although, as is the way of my people (Southern women), I never said anything about it or gave anyone a chance to correct it. Now that I no longer live with people (other than my mother who has to love me no matter what I do, even if I text her from the bedroom “would you QUIT slamming the DOORS” and she replies “I am at the grocery store”) I simply find it curious.

So there you go: if you share a room with someone who tends to sleep and this has never occurred to you, start holding the doorknob tonight. Your partner will thank you. Or rather, they won’t, because they won’t wake up and know it happened, which is exactly the point.

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