Mary Poppins with a bite

The other evening, a neighbor and I walked into our building together. As we walked up the steps toward the elevator lobby, we were almost mowed down by three impossibly tall, impossibly boisterous and impossibly entitled high school seniors coming in through a side door from the parking deck. They charged into the elevator lobby ahead of us. The elevator doors opened and they stampeded in. That got my dander up. Not only had they almost run us down, but this was plain bad manners. I held out my arm to stop the doors from closing, pointed at each boy in turn and said, “Out, out, out!” Good as gold they all filed out. I continued to hold the door, gestured for Lora to get in, followed her, then turned around and said to the three boys, “OK, come on. Just remember, ladies first, next time.” They looked horrified. One boy said, “Is it OK to ride with you?” I repeated they could get in and the doors closed.

For them, the two-floor ride must have been interminable. I continued my lecture. “Don’t forget, ladies first always. All you have to do is pause for a moment and think.” When the doors opened on the second floor, which was where Lora was getting off, one of the boys made a forward movement. His friend pulled him back when he saw Lora was getting off. They all had the good grace to laugh and said, “Ladies first!”

I wondered if the lesson would stick, and got my answer two days later. I had taken Savannah out and was waiting at the back door elevator when I heard kids coming down the hall. Round the corner, came one of the impossibly tall, impossibly boisterous and impossibly entitled boys, followed by at least six impossibly pretty young girls. The elevator doors opened and I said, “I’ll wait for the next one – it’s too crowded with Savannah.” The girls trooped on, followed by the boy. He turned and grinned. I said, “Nice manners, letting all the girls on first.” “Yes, Ma’am,” he replied. “I heard what you said and I remembered.”

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