The terrible trek to classes

Thomas Humphrey | Staff Writer

When thinking of the most dangerous expeditions man endures, you may think of actions such as summiting Everest and flying over the Bermuda Triangle. However, one terror has been overlooked for far too long: the walk to classes from the South 40 at Washington University. Every morning, I am barraged by wheeled machines of terror whizzing by me as I desperately try to stay out of the way. The worst of these is the motorized skateboard—you hear that inhuman whirring behind you, closer and closer, until a trendy skater slides past, unaware of the intense emotional anguish they have just caused.

Motor-boards aren’t the only thing: Scooters and bikes have also caused my psyche irreparable damage through their bobbing and weaving, and runners, the kind of psychopaths that voluntarily go out in subzero temperatures to run away from nothing, generally leave me disturbed. Even those walking pose a danger. Stuck behind a slow-walking pair, you can choose to rough it out behind them until one of the designated passing points at the Danforth University Center, or that corner that used to have a rock (RIP that rock). The alternative is to risk an excursion into the left lane, posing danger of pedestrian collision, or even worse, the public humiliation of overestimating your speed and walking beside the slow walkers rather than past them.

But the deep social discomfort implicit in the South 40 morning walk of death is the worst part. Your first decision: To use earbuds or not to use earbuds? If you successfully pull the “don’t make eye contact and act really rushed” ploy, earbuds can be a valuable asset in avoiding awkward greetings to distant acquaintances. However, there is a huge downside potential to earbuds—the “one ear out switcheroo.” You catch the eye of someone you should probably talk to, pull out one of your earbuds in dreadful trepidation for unwanted small talk, only to be even more disappointed when they greet you and move on. Now you look like a clown, earbud in one hand and soiled pride in another. Your reputation is from then on unsalvageable.

Let us dwell on this greeting problem though, because it only gets worse. Every trip to class is riddled with social booby traps. How are you supposed to greet someone whose eyes are diverted—should you get their attention or pretend that you, too, missed them? What about that one guy you talked to for 10 minutes at a party two weeks ago? There is just no protocol in place for how to interact with these people.

So, what is the solution? Is there any way to make the trek to classes less harrowing? Yes, there is, I’m glad you asked. Convert the Wash. U. outdoor campus into a permanent high society masquerade. This small measure would solve everything. While wearing opulent masks that partially obscure their vision, bikers, skateboarders and other hooligans will be forced to pay closer attention to the walkway. More importantly, you never have to worry about greeting people if you cannot recognize any of them. Personally, I see no logistical or ethical issues that could arise out of this arrangement, so implementation within the next academic year seems highly plausible. So, join me in embracing anonymity and cutting yourself off from society as completely as possible.

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