When to hold the door open for someone; Simple question brings complicated debate

South San Francisco, CA October 14, 2013wheelchair logo

Question here from Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer and we are wondering how would YOU handle this?

“I know this is really random, but I just wanted everyone’s opinion. My friend and I were sitting outside of a Starbucks when we saw a man in a wheelchair approaching the door. We were sitting maybe 3 feet away from the entrance, so my friend got up and opened the door for the man. The man started yelling at my friend saying things like “I may be in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do sh*t for myself” and he started calling my friend rude and many other names. My friend was trying just to do what he thought was the right thing.” Sharon asked, ” What do you guys think my friend should of done? Should he have just let the man open the door himself? Was my friend out of line?”

Cyndi Reulein Medrano Some people are just bitter, your friend did the Right thing! The polite and noble thing! God Bless him, I hope he is around when someone else needs him.️

Kerry Sponseller That was a nice and polite thing to do. The guy in the chair is the one with a problem and attitude. I would have opened the door also.

Anita Porpoise Obviously neither of you were expecting such a reaction. You just can’t please all the people all of the time. Your friend’s intentions were good and kind, so no need to question this.

Mark Navarro Pushed him over and tell him get up by yourself then!

Alana Meline I open doors for everyone. Kids, friends, men, women, elderly,…..doesn’t matter. It’s just the polite thing to do. That’s how we were raised.

Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer I agree with you! My friends laugh at me because I will stand there holding the door for the longest time whenever I see someone behind me. Lol they usually start breaking out in a light jog so that I don’t have to continue to hold the door, but I tell them not to worry because it’s nothing to me. I was raised to be polite and that’s what polite people do..

Janel M Chrestenson Pearson Your friend was right. Obviously someone had a chip on the shoulder.

Cristina Maria Murillo I would have done the same thing in opening the door he did the right thing

Kelly Hendrickson That’s when you close the door on the jerk.

Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer lol I could never do that, but thank you for your input. My friend didn’t react and just said you have a nice day, sir and walked away.

Angelique Presidente Your friend did the right thing, sometimes I just wait for people to try to open it and then offer to help if needed to avoid a situation like that, then whomever it is feels as though they tried

Cristina Sandoval He did the right thing and I hope he continues to do it. Obviously the man had more than a physical disability.

Andrea ‘Andi’ Brusuelas he followed his heart and did the right thing…I would have done the same thing. No, your friend was not out of line…

Jim Chazer Just goes to show that handicapped people are perfectly able to be aholes. Segue to discussion of the ADA.

Interesting Fact of the Day The fact that you ask this question lets me know there are still good-intentioned people out there. Keep doing what you feel is right. You won’t always get the appreciation you deserve for it, but if you are doing it for the attention, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Keep up the good work Sharon, and ignore the people who don’t appreciate it.

Laurina Rodgers I would have done the same. I also would not take the attitude of the person in the wheelchair personal. He is obviously struggling with uncertainty and ego and anger which just translates into fear manifesting itself. Very sad but your friend did the right thing. I also feel sorry for the person in the wheelchair. He obviously has more to deal with than not being able to walk. Very sad. The government is probably not making things easier for him at all either. We are all angry about that, right?? God bless him and your friend.

Debbie Bolton Smyser Your friend did the right thing. Sometimes there are handicapped people who want to do it themselves. I don’t know of one that would have reacted this dramatically. Proud of your friend!!

Wendy Kerbs-Keach common courtesy is never out of line. This man is angry about his situation, and its unfortunate that he is lashing out at those who wish to help him.

David Kator Khasar no

Ken Ibarra I learned more reading the comments – acts of kindness can never be wrong.


Steve Charlton If you friend is a female she should have B@#!ch slapped him for being rude. I am disabled and always thank people when they help@me!

Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer Lol while I like your enthusiasm, we could never do that. My friend simply told him to have a good day (even addressed him as a Sir) and walked away.

Katie Fauss-Nowlin I think your friend was being KIND and I would have done the same thing. Now what I might have said to that person in the wheelchair, who was out of line and rude? It would have been hard for me to keep my smart mouth shut.

Cynthia Toy-Bastedo I would have then paid for his coffee to really make his day!

Linda Meschi Bintz I would have done the same thing, opened the door. We don’t take pity on the man we just think it’s the right thing to do to help him. He sounds like he has some kind of chip on his shoulders. Kudo’s to your friend of doing the right thing, and hope this doesn’t sour her for helping others

Ben Cheah Your friend was right in his/her actions, but maybe we shouldn’t be so harsh in judging the man in the wheelchair. If I had just been forced into a wheelchair through some injury or disease, I wouldn’t be too happy at the world either.

Angelica Morales Ford Is this the Starbucks on Grand Avenue?

Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer No, the San Bruno one.

Carole Brady-Duport I would have done what your friend did. It’s a shame he was so upset. But, you don’t know his circumstances.

Sandra Pena Your friend did the right thing! I would of done the same thing, it’s the polite and mannerful thing to do. The guy was a jerk!

Jesse Mohr I open doors for able-bodied people just as I would for a disabled person. It’s not the person in front of you, it’s the courtesy of the act. Your friend did the right thing.

Gloria Catanach Some people! Your friend was being considerate , the guy is an asshole!

Cesar Custodio Jr What an Asshole!!!!’……. Your friend was being kind…… Hopefully he continues to be an asshole where no one will offer to help him

Karen Ridgeway-Viera Maybe that is waht put him in a wheelchair! Your friend was just doing what most of us would do for anyone! Not just someone in a wheelchair! Gheez! Like I said maybe his poor attitude is what got him there!

Karen Romano You friend was right!! The guy just had a bad attitude.

Jepečzenka Hep Svađakovič handicapped people aren’t required to be grateful for your charity. maybe next time wait until someone asks for help before you treat them like a child.

Laura Grgich She was polite, not offering charity or treating anyone like a child. Maybe next time you can keep your rude and dumb comment to yourself before treat all of us to your ignorance.

Joanne Evars he did what was right the man in the wheelchair was a jerk just cause you can’t walk doesnt make you nice

Daniel Jimenez I would have done the same thing. It’s not a sign of weakness on behalf of the individual. But more a sign of respect from me. Do what’s what feels right to you. You’re only responsible for your own actions. You’re not responsible for others thoughts or actions.

Carol Worswick Mazza I would have knocked him out of his chair and then watched him try and get back in it himself. No I’m kidding I wouldn’t do that. U did the right thing. Just a grumpy person who obviously is mad at life. Don’t stop being kind. Not too many of those people out there anymore. U did a good deed for the day even if he thought it was wrong.

Deborah Bartholomew he was a jerk bottom line

Aaron Grgich Promptly wheeled him into oncoming traffic.

Joyce Messing Thanks for the great laugh honey!

Laura Grgich Actually I just read Aaron’s and like it better than mine.

Annette Moran Your friend did the proper thing for anyone with a disability or and older person or someone with a stroller. Just tell her to shrug it off and let it go. Some people are just rude

Susan Montalvo He tried… Then if the help isn’t want walk away. Has happened to me too. Ya never know what to do

YuSha Ng I was injured and was wheeled before, I wouldn’t feel bad if people open door for me, instead, when people open door or give way for me I feel warm and glad people helped me. Sorry and thank you are the words I always say when I was wheeled. Your friend is one of the great people has big heart to help others. I guess the wheeled guy just had a bad day so he has attitude. I hope you guys feel better now

Mary An Stanley Your friend wasn’t treating anyone like s child! Your friend was being polite. People seem to forget about manners. The man in wheel chair was just rude!
He obviously doesn’t open doors for anyone!
These days kindness gets confusing , what a shame .

Muriel Pleasic Peninger Actually I usually ask if they need any help. Do this all the time. Iam also up in age too so If I needed help I wouild ask. But not everybody are alike. and she did what she was told to do growing up bless her heart. maybe somthing was wrong with him. Iam sorry I have to chuckle he probably scared the heck out of u both.

Bibi Tu Sabes I would have done the same thing. And I don’t think opening the door is treating someone like a child, but just bring helpful. If I had my hands full with bags, I would have lived if someone opened the door for me, that wouldn’t make me feel like a child. P.S. damn if you DO and damn if you DON’T

Toni Thanos Your friend is a kind person. He/she should not change and not let this person change how he feels about helping his fellow man. The person in the wheelchair is having issues within him self. Follow your heart, if you feel it’s right do it!!! Hopefully the person in the wheelchair will find peace.

Martha Jensen Poor guy was very angry, wasn’t he? Your friend did, I think, the right thing. He may have been angry with his situation in general. And, we have no idea what happened to him prior to that. Doing the right thing is its own reward.

Christina Barnett Haas Well in that situation I believe the friend was just trying to do the right “polite” thing. I think Most people would have done the same thing! I would have! It’s unfortunate the man responded to the kindness so inappropriately! We don’t know his situation, maybe he was having a bad day or is having difficulties dealing with his “situation” (for lack of the most politically correct way to describe him) either way that’s not an excuse for him to lash out in that way! Maybe next time instead of just automatically opening the door.. Ask first, then if they say yes then great! I know some folks in that situation that are very independent, others not so much. Sorry to hear of hurt feelings, but happy there are still “some” kind folks in the world! Heck wheel chair or not sometimes people rather let the door slam on you then wait a second or two to hold it open.

Matela Benpana Your friend was right and shouldn’t let the wheelchair person make him feel bad…. I don’t know how exactly I would react to his attitude though.. maybe just ignore the wheelchair dude.

Jacqueline Robin No your friend did the right thing! The guy sounds crazy. Just feeling sorry for himself

Jon Henz he was wrong let them try or offer first never assume any handy capper

Janet Cook-Fauss Ask first, they want to be independent. If no one was there what would they do? They can figure it out.

Rosemary Umland All he had to say was thanks,but I can do it.

Vickie Pfeiffer I think your friend did the right thing. He was only trying to be helpful—something I think most of us would try to be. The other day I held the door open for a man in a wheelchair and he thanked me. At first I was worried that I would get the same reaction your friend did, but this man was appreciative and pleasant. I guess we just don’t know how someone will react. We do the best we can.

Weinerd Pretzel Some cripples are just bitter about their handicap. I would have said “yeah but can you moonwalk?” and the slid away backwards…

Jesseca Carlos The man is in a wheelchair for a damn reason. Your friend is right, polite and didn’t mean any harm. Some people are just ungrateful and get what the deserve.

Renee Gomes I would of done the same thing your friend did.

Arbelle Dones Pacumio Or next time I would ask first..

Delia Navarro Muniz Yea. Some r bitter. I think askin probably would have gotten the same reaction.

Dan Anchick Yes your friend did the right thing. At least you got a glimpse of another humans personality. Everybody different.

Ashley Hope Your friend was right. I was taught that to hold open a door for someone was the polite and right thing to do. Your friend went out of his way for a stranger but unfortunately the stranger didnt think so. Sad that when someone tries to do right they are yelled at. Sounds like your friend is a keeper!

Sharon Kay Gustilo Meyer Thanks, everyone! Everyone had some really good points. Lol I wouldn’t go as far as calling the guy an asshole because some of you are right. Maybe the guy was just having an off day. We all have them!

Rachel Pigman Warren No he was fine the guy in the chair was an asshole

Kimberly Millhorn The guy in the wheelchair was wrong for saying all those things. That was totally uncalled for. Kudos to your friend for being a kind-hearted, caring person. Helping someone doesn’t mean they are incompetent or unable. It is just a kind gesture from one human being to another! That’s it and that’s all!!!

Travis Stevenson Throw a stick in the spokes

Jackie Grady Moreno Shut the door fast

Anita M Barsuglia Mattes I would have done the same as your friend … but then I would have said “sorry” to the man and shut the door.

Darlene Kraus Barton I think she did the right thing. It’s a natural instinct when u have a kind & considerate heart.I think that man was having a bad day and who knows how long he’s been in his chair..days, weeks, mths or yrs any length of time would be hard ..sometimes people can’t get past the independence they once may have had so don’t feel bad for a kind jester.. feel bad for how miserable he may be feeling each time he’s mean to someone you know he can’t be happy..keep up the good work and make it a great day!!

Northcounty Preventionpartnership This topic was covered in some of the cultural competency trainings offered to our organization. As some other people have mentioned, it’s better to ask a person with a disability if they would like assistance as opposed to right out providing the assistance. The perspective offered is that the person with the disability should be treated as any other person, unless they specifically ask for assistance. It can sometimes feel unnatural, as many people seem to be genuinely kind and helpful, but the take away message seems to be that it is better to ask first before providing assistance right away. Sorry that happened to your friend though.

Laura Grgich Cultural competency training? Do we have to get trained for everything now? What has happened to common sense and common decency?

Northcounty Preventionpartnership @Laura Grgich: The cultural competency training I’m referring to is provided to the parent organization of North County Prevention Partnership (NCPP), Asian American Recovery Services. As social service providers in the field of substance abuse treatment, AARS serves clients locally in South San Francisco, and also in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Our organization receives annual cultural competency trainings to increase awareness and preparation for the diverse client base AARS serves.

I can’t answer your question about what has happened to common sense and decency. When the OP shared her question, I offered my perspective based on my experiences. I make no judgments in this case about how the man in the wheelchair behaved, other than to take it for what it is and value it as a learning experience.

If others in the field of health care or social services (or anybody for that matter) are interested in other cultural competency trainings, San Mateo County through the Office of Diversity & Equity has 8 different Health Equity Initiatives (African American, Chinese, Filipino, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, PRIDE, and Spirituality). These initiatives work to address racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities. NCPP is honored to be working closely with the Filipino MentalHealth Initiative, PRIDE Initiative, and Pacific Islander Initiative.


-Athila Lambino
North County Prevention Partnership


Health Equity Initiatives | San Mateo Health System


Everything South City Thanks Athila for the info Northcounty Preventionpartnership

Laura Grgich I guess growing up here I learned about diversity naturally and by getting close to other people We learned to embrace and enjoy differences by just living nearby and attending school together. I would imagine that those that live in a non-diverse area would not have had that opportunity. I raised my four children here and was happy with the ethnic diversity of our area. Thank you for your information.

Bonnie Jane Payne-Earnest She did the right thing. I work with people with disabilities. He was just the one person who didn’t appreciate the kind gesture.

Darryl Wesley There are great and respectful people and assholes in this world… your friend is a great and respectful person while the other guy is an ass. I wouldnt lose sleep over people like that.

Teri Farrell I guess the guy was a bit hypersensitive to the help…maybe if I were sitting near someone in a wheelchair who might need help, I could approach the person first and ask, “May I help you open the door?” and then they could reply with a yes or no and have no reason to get upset because he would be in control.

Joyce Messing Of course your friend was right,I would have said , I did not mean to upset you only meant to be kind. If the guy didn’t feel bad ,he is not worth even giving a second thought .Karma will get him again!

Laura Grgich What will Karma do Mom? Take his hands?

Joyce Messing I don’t know , just made me mad

Rose Chang Chiu Argh… kind of reinforce about how no good deed goes unpunished… yet we still continue to do them because it’s the right thing to do. I know if I were in a wheelchair, wheeling a stroller, or shoot… just walking on my own, I’d be happy if someone held the door for me!

Will KnoCk Out Marcelo The man was just trying to be what we call a “Man” lol

Gayathriedevi Janakiraman Thank you for openning the door! My fiance is in a wheel chair and totally appreciates the help from strangers. He is totally capable of openning doors but definitely welcomes assistance when possible. Some people like the man you encountered are angry with their situation and take it out on kind people like your friend. PLEASE DO NOT let that expereince change you.

Ginger Soakimi Oh your friend did the correct thing! But while he was
Opening the door I always ask, ( can I open this for u ?)

Diane Regner How truly unkind of that man (not gentle). Your friend made a lovely gesture & how ungrateful, unkind, and ungracious that man was. Shame on him, it’s all about kindness and karma!

Raquel Cordon-Curtis May your friend never change, that person in the wheel chair is just going through something we don’t know about, I would of just said Sir I apologies I meant no disrespect, and would of said a quiet prayer, God bring peace to this man…..and I would enjoy the rest of my day.

Del Schembari The wheel chair man must have had problems or a bad day. I think Raquel had it right. It’s best to just walk away sometimes.

Sandra Perez-Vargas Your friend was being kind. I’ve been yelled at many time for doing what I thought might help. Sometimes I’m wrong. I always apologize and let them know that offending them was the last thing I wanted to do.

Susan Gonzales Same thing happened to me. Now I ask ” can I get the door for you?” or whatever applies, hold my breath waiting to be yelled at then act accordingly

Laura Grgich She shoulda’ tipped him backward by the handles to the ground, spun the wheels and said “OK buddy get yourself out of this by yourself.” Really, if he had just said, “No thanks, I got the door.” would have sufficed. Your friend is a kind person and as a nurse I would have attempted to open the door for him too.

Lorraine Woodcock Tell the guy he is an ass!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no need to act like he did.

Glenn Bach I hate it when that happens , been there…

Tony Gale Burgess Do what one thinks is right and should someone not accept it….walk away.

Marilou Ursino Snell-Ursino the man in the chair was very rude and your friend did the right thing

Janet Cook-Fauss Just happened to us at Taco Bell, my husband asked the girl if she needed help with the door, she said yes thank you. She was very grateful for his help. I would always ask first, they want to be independent.

Frank L. Cassady He was right, the idiot in the wheel chair lack a brain, period!

George Bird I would hv started yelling back and called him names.

Russ Toy sounds like something from that show, “what would you do?”

Loretta Russell never stop being helpful the man was wrong in how he acted

Kev Kelly Shut the door and lock it. : ) Probably a member of the tea party.

Rosa Martinez Your friend did the right old school way but unfortunately becoming independent is a huge issue now so I’ve had my Ass chewed too so now I ask if they’d like for me to help and I wait for there response and even then they chew it from time to time. We can never please everyone

Bonnie Williams Just smile and shut the door…then block it with your foot!

Mary C. Staples I guess I would say SORRY I did not mean any offense and just walk away.

Susan Freddie, Realtor Best intentions sometimes do not land on the best recipients. Your friend did the right thing regardless. Also, we never know is going on with a person at that moment. Rest assured your friend can feel good about their intent.

Stacy Beversdorf Ramirez Wow- that is really sad. Things like this are what ruin future good intentions. Tell your friend, not to let one bad apple ruin his common decency and I thank him for his courtesy.

Jennifer Welch Whatever happened to regard for others and common courtesy. When one cannot even exercise a slight gesture of courtesy, what used to be accepted as common courtesy and with a smile in return, we’re really in a sad place. Your friend did right by letting his conscience be his guide, and thereby is his assurance for his own humanity/dignity, in treating others the way you would like to be treated ~ never mind the political correctness/poor self-image, which I think is behind this poor response to a kind gesture. This whole world is drowning with political correctness anyway. I’m not even in a wheelchair and I’ll be happy to have anyone open the door for me when I’m tired or even when I’m not tired!

Susana Marie Cochran Just walk away and let him be the a**hole. Your friend did the right thing. How did she know he was an a**hole.



1 comment for “When to hold the door open for someone; Simple question brings complicated debate

  1. Marie
    October 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

    No good deed goes unpunished!

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