Advocating a closed-door policy

Sep 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary, Opinions

by Jason McGill

When I walk the crisscrossing sidewalks up to Blair-Shannon, or by the row of trees to the south entrance of Cheek, or up the steps to Meyer Library, what do I find when I get there? Three or four pairs of glass doors, with another set of doors just beyond. This double set of doors traps the air and keeps it from escaping the building, making it somewhat cheaper to heat and cool the air inside.

I see what they did there.

But more and more often, I’m seeing something else as I approach these storied halls. The automatic doors for the handicapped standing open.handicap

The first time I saw this, I naturally strolled on through. I figured someone handicapped must have just used the doors. Or maybe someone with a cart or heavy load couldn’t find anyone to hold a door open.

I actually stopped and looked back at the doors, feeling the heat billowing in from the outside. No one needed them open anymore. I tried to shut them, the hydraulics were locked in place. I supposed the doors were just timed to stay open a really long time.

But they weren’t.

No, as time went on, I realized what was really going on. Students, faculty, maintenance personnel, visitors, mail carriers, a vast cross section, from all walks of life, were pressing the big, blue, square button and taking advantage of the automatic doors for the handicapped without any apparent need.

I see what they did there.

Of course, it’s a waste of energy. Of course, it thwarts the very reason for having a double set of doors in the first place; to keep the heated or air conditioned air inside the building…inside the building.

So why do people do this? Is it sheer laziness? Are these people so important or in such a hurry they cannot spare the half second it takes to push open a door?

And don’t give me the germ argument. Some people seem to think touching a door handle is like getting to second base with everyone else who opened that door. Wear gloves if you’re really that afraid or use a sleeve. Just be sure to scrub yourself down in the bathtub afterward, muttering the word “quarantine” over and over.

I have a suspicion it’s related to this strange impulse people have to use technology in utterly unnecessary ways. It’s the same part of the culture the electric scissors came from, or the Roomba or auto-tune. These are the people that get online to find out the current temperature… outside… right now. The inner child thinks it just cooler to make doors open by themselves.

Remember when you were six years old at the grocery store and you were walking in and out of the sensor, opening and closing the automatic doors, and your mom said, “That door is not a toy!” Neither are the automatic doors for the handicapped. So stop it.

See what I did there?

Also, push in your chairs when you get up from the table in the dining hall, for Pete’s sake!

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