Tip No. 4: Wait until all the women have gotten on or off an elevator before you get on or off.
“Look, I’m not some chivalry nut or anything, but this small act of politeness is very visual and memorable.”
I don’t take very many elevators. Most of my destinations seem to be no more than a couple of floors off ground level, so I always take the stairs. There have been a couple of occasions recently where I’ve had to catch myself up in order to let women onto elevators ahead of me. (I almost missed one in the effort, which would have left my friend who had already entered high and dry and a tad confused.)
Chivalry is probably tougher for guys these days – we should know that women are equally capable, but that once in a while they appreciate small favours as a show of decency. There’s a difference between being there to hold a door and lunging for it like you’re possessed. I’m sure Queen Elizabeth I thanked Sir Walter Raleigh for laying down his coat and didn’t shoot her entourage a glance that communicated he was being kind of a creeper about it. Or maybe she went on full bore à la Judi Dench in “Shakespeare in Love.” Sometimes a guy can get his head scrambled under propriety.
I’m a bit off when it comes to opening doors for women, usually because I always let women take the lead while we’re walking in general. But I’m good with grabbing a door and holding it once it’s open. I’m not sure if that counts. Pulling out chairs is tough, too, because it’s hard to nail the proper dramatic flair of it. Too much and it comes off as achingly lame, too little and it seems rude and mechanical. I usually take the chair when it’s a chair/booth situation anyway, since booths are more comfortable. Though it’s good idea to ask which they prefer.
Offering my seat to women on buses has always been dodgy because I’ve run the gamut of responses. Some are appreciative, some are puzzled, some refuse to the point of near hostility. I’ve figured out a system, though: don’t offer. Just stand. If you’re young and able-bodied, make sure every seat on that bus is taken by people who could use the load off instead of you. Sometimes chivalry is best kept to yourself.