Thursday, March 13, 2008

Behold, I Stand At The Door And Knock

When you go over to someone's house, a close friend's or relative's, do you knock at the door?

I come from a family of knockers. I never went into *anyone's* house without knocking, even my grandparents'. It just wasn't done. At the very least, we did the knock-and-enter, calling out to let them know that we were there. And this has really only progressed since my grandparents have declined in health and hearing, and waiting at the door for an answer would lead to discomfort or pain on my grandmother's part, or us waiting indefinitely because nobody heard the knock over the blastingly loud television. But mostly we were knock-and-wait. I still feel a twinge of discomfort every time I walk into my parents' house, the house in which I grew up, spent the first twenty-ish years of my life, without knocking. I'm not expected to knock, so I don't, but it still feels a little weird to just waltz on in. I *always* call out to let them know I have just entered.

As I got older and began going to other people's places without my parents, I've observed many other trends. The one I understand the least is the "open door" policy, where you just walk on in. This freaks me out. I can understand it if you KNOW someone is coming, if you have INVITED them, and especially if when you invite them, you say, "when you get here, just come on in." But to just have this thing where your friends feel free to wander into your house any old time, without warning? Yeah, I don't think so.

I will knock even if I just go out to my car to get something, when I am coming back in to their house, when they KNOW I am coming back in, when they are WAITING for me to come back in. Just the other day, I felt the very strong need to tell Brenda that when I came back from picking something up at the store for wedding planning, that I was going to just come back in the house without knocking. Because I wanted to give her the foreknowledge that I was going to be popping back up. I wanted her aware that she could turn around at any moment and see me. I wanted to give her the opportunity to say, "could you just tap on the door first?" if she needed to. (I didn't expect that she would say that, and she didn't, but I *had* to give her that opportunity.)

I want people to knock. I want them to respect the physical boundary of the door, that it is a barrier to define one's personal space. I'm a private person (yeah, I have this blog and I pour it all out, but hey, I *choose* what and when you get to see into my head, right?). I have a very difficult time letting my guard all the way down, and in my own home I need to be able to do this. If there's always a chance that hello! a person is going to pop up on me, I can't relax. Again, if someone is coming over, is *expected,* than that's different, because I'm not relaxed anyway, and in fact I'm hypervigilant, watching for them, worried that they'll show up and I won't hear the knock, won't know they're here, won't be waiting at the door when they arrive.

I have one friend who never knocks. Ever. She just walks into my house. Even when I'm not home. She's known me forever, and apparently feels that longevity grants her this permission. But it drives me crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y. And I am horrible about asserting myself, and it's gone on so long without my mentioning it, that I don't know how to fix it. One time I didn't know she was coming and didn't hear her come in and she didn't call out to let me know she was there, and she came *upstairs* to find me and scared the living hell out of me. In retrospect, that would have been a PERFECT time to address the situation, and just say mildly, "you know, that really startled me. Could you please knock at the door when you drop in?" or something. But no, I didn't say a word.

I've tried passive-aggressive methods to drop the hint. Like, when I knew she was coming, I locked the door so she would *have* to knock. I did this a few times. It didn't work.

I know I need to suck it up and say something. But holy cow, that's hard. I have been raised from the cradle to be accommodating and welcoming, to just suck it up, to never, EVER be an inconvenience to someone or an imposition. Somehow this has crossed over into not wanting to inconvenience people by imposing my own personal needs in my own home. A guest is a guest, invited or not, and when a guest arrives, you put away all the strife in your own existence and smile. You don't say, "Now is not a good time for me," or "I really would prefer you don't do that."

So what do you think? What do you do? mk


Amy said...

I would take it one further and say you should also call before "just dropping by." Surprising someone with your presence isn't always comfortable for the other person -- it could be a bad time for them. In fact, the few times I've dropped by someone's house, I've always felt that the person was feeling a bit inconvenienced (in pajamas still, for example).

I am a knocker too, except at my parents'. I have a key to their house, so why should I knock? But they are the one and only exception. I would be very unhappy if someone just walked into my house (of course, I keep the door locked at all times). The exception is when I have Girl Scouts and the ringing is just too much. I then put a sign on the door that says "Please come in!"

I remember walking into someone's house just one time. She was expecting me, but when I got there (40 minute trip), there was no answer at the door. It was cold out, and after knocking and waiting quite a while, I let myself in. She had been in the shower. I never felt so awkward in my life.

BarnGoddess said...

I come from a 'depends on who's house it is' family of knockers...

Since I only see my family about once a year...when I go to their houses, I usually give a knock then enter, even at my own childhood home!

At my inlaws, never knock, altho I have the desire would insult them if I knock.

If I have company unplanned and I am busy, I tell them that. I am not a good liar nor do I like unplanned company...mean and antisocial I am.

markira said...

Ah, the pop-in. I'm not a big fan of those, either.

I have actually been known to knock at someone's house, not get an answer, and then call them from my cell phone rather than even try the door. When I am expected. (Conversation goes something like, "Hi, where are you?" "At your front door.")

The Beast Mom said...

I only have one friend that I've consistently walked into her house (since I was a little kid). And that's only because she and her mom GET MAD if I ring the bell! I'd really prefer to knock, but they prefer friends to "just come on in". I told them once that they really should keep the door locked however. There are too many crazies out there. They continue to never lock their doors. Oh well. It's their house, right? :)

BTW, I have a question. If you locked your door against that one friend, how did that "not work"? Did she somehow get in anyway? :)


Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Dude. I knocked on the door of my own house growing up. Walk in on your parents doing it on the couch and you will knock for the rest of your life.

Notebooks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In two words....ALWAYS KNOCK!


markira said...


Well, obviously it worked those particular times, but as soon as I stopped locking my door she started right back coming in. sigh.