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The Golden Rule This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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My obsession began at a young age. Waking up first on Christmas morning; getting up at six o’clock every Saturday to watch the good cartoons; arriving at class before everyone else in order to choose the best seat…my meticulousness about punctuality paid off. In my manic passion for promptness, I committed many transgressions. In seventh grade, I accidentally knocked down a poor girl who stepped in my path as I walked to my next class. I yelled out a quick “sorry!” before hurrying towards the classroom. From behind me, I heard a muttered, sarcastic “wow,” which failed to affect me or even register in my mind as I sat down at my preferred desk. In my lifetime, how many doors had I slammed in people’s faces? How many “goodbyes” had I ignored? How many people had I pushed or shoved in order to reach my destination?
On a cold day during the in-between season of early spring at the in-between age of thirteen, something shook the very foundation of my beliefs. That morning my mother decided to wake her daughter up twenty minutes late; twenty minutes that I wasted laying in bed waiting patiently for my trustworthy mother who woke me up at the same time every morning. When she finally knocked on my door, I climbed out of bed and made my way to the breakfast table. I leisurely sipped my milk and waited for my waffles to cool. Then, I saw the microwave’s clock shining brightly in green blocky numbers the wrong time. I paused for a moment, frozen and frantically calculating a way to fix the injury to my carefully planned schedule. Inhaling my breakfast, the waffles nearly burning my throat as they traveled down my esophagus, I raced back to my room to prepare.
That morning I reached school at 7:25 a.m. with only ten minutes to trudge into my first hour. I stood no chance at selecting my favorite seat. Upperclassmen surrounding the parking lot gave me sidelong glances as I sprinted from our sensible car to the school’s south entrance. For, even under the direst of time crunches, I refused to break the rules and enter from the wrong side of the school.

When watching the entrance to any building one realizes that, the world contains two types of people: those who hold doors open for others, and those who do not. However, just as the world lacks clear divisions, the set “types” sometimes blend into one another as well.
The extremists, dramatically devoted door holders, will open the door and step back, mimicking some chivalrous act from the medieval times. Whenever I see these people, I half-expect them to bow down and start waving their free arm in a courtly manner.
The half-hearted door holders, which everybody tends to act like in the very early morning time, will hold open doors on a condition. Half-hearted door holders glance back surreptitiously to determine whether the person behind them is worthy of their time and energy. One cannot help but to feel slighted when a half-hearted door-holder looks back, turns away, and lets the door slam against the wall.
The last group contains those who simply loathe the idea of holding open any door for anyone but himself or herself. The “refusers,” the rebels, the nonconformists who care not for the opinions of others-- mostly, these people are just unaware of their surroundings and the consequences of their actions.
For most of my life, I embodied a half-hearted door holder with refuser tendencies. In the early spring of my freshman year, a catalyst, small but effective, forced me to change.

I encountered a frantic refuser that morning, running late, much like me. He darted past me as I adjusted my backpack straps. Considering his position, a mere two meters in front of me, it seemed obvious that he should at least pass me the door. That morning, a refuser taught me the fallibility of assuming. A “thank you” on the tip of my tongue and a grateful smile at the ready, my face froze as the refuser ran through the door without a look back or regret. I expected an open door, but I collected disappointment. Annoyance followed me across the long hallway and up the three flights of stairs, festering and growing until French, where I seized my chance to rant and complain.

Huffing a few times to establish my irritation, I began, “Do you know what happened this morning...I have never been so…how rude…no awareness of their surroundings...I hate people like that…ugh.” The words tumbled out as I continued my diatribe. My friends, tired of my whining, pointed out the hypocrisy that I spouted and changed the subject:

“You’re being a hypocrite. How did you conjugate number five?”

The bluntness of the statement stunned me. Striving for punctuality was not a bad thing…but how many transgressions had I committed in my craze? That day, I realized something that Mrs. Perkins tried to teach me in the fourth grade: The Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated.


So now, I wait. At the entrance, I watch a rather sleepy-looking freshman make her way into the building through the door that I hold open the proper way, with me standing behind it and to the side. I refrain from clearing my throat and rolling my eyes at her somnambulant amble into the building. Though I failed to become an “extremist,” I sense the changes that surround me because of my new behavior. Nowadays, the stares that I receive originate from kinder thoughts. Memories of those thankful souls whose days I made better by simply holding open a door weigh less heavy in my mind than the memories of those that I ignore. How many doors you hold open matters less than how many doors you shut close.




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