Shuffling down the stairs into the depths of ICC along with half of the student body, I overheard someone remark to his friend, “This is such a fire hazard. I mean, if there were a fire on the second floor, we would all die.” Looking around the stairwell, jostled almost constantly by an array of designer bags and moving at a frustratingly slow pace, I decided he was right.
After class I found myself again struggling to emerge from the ICC in time to make it to my next class. The ten-minute passing time makes getting to Walsh a challenge. Unable to understand why the people at the top of the stairs don’t just move faster, I surfaced, and had to stop suddenly to avoid running into a herd of Hoyas. Sadly, the girl behind me wasn’t so alert. I darted through the group and tried to understand why anyone would think it’s a good idea to stop at the top of the stairs.
This is far from an isolated incident. Every time I eat at Leo’s, I encounter groups clustered at the top and bottom of the stairs. What causes this? Why can otherwise intelligent and competent Georgetown students not handle something as simple as stairs?
Some of us—I’m thinking specifically of the Jane Hoyas—recognize this problem and practice in their free time. This is the only possible explanation for the use of Stairmasters at Yates. Why else would you climb more stairs, when walking anywhere around campus is equivalent to a decent stair workout?
We live on what in my midwestern mind could easily be classified as a mountain. Calling it the Hilltop is just a pleasant euphemism. When a friend from home came to visit last semester, it took quite a while to explain to him that though I lived on the 7th floor of Village C, he only needed to take the stairs up three floors. After mastering this, he struggled to understand why the library’s ground floor is three.
Maybe staircase-challenged Hoyas spent so much time climbing the stairs that they’re overwhelmed when they finally reach the top and forget where they were going. I’d like to think, however, we have at least twenty or thirty years before such spacey behavior, akin to losing your keys while holding them.
Maybe they’re proud they ascended the stairs and are reveling in their success before continuing on with their hectic lives. This defense really only makes sense on the Village C steps; the others aren’t nearly so daunting.
Or maybe they’re running into a dear friend. This happens often right in the middle of the stairs at Leo’s. “Oh my God! You’re coming to dinner? I’m leaving dinner! Let’s talk about it! Right here!”
This reminds me of the northern Minnesotan practice of stopping in the middle of the road to talk to a car heading in the opposite direction. Other cars held up by the conversation wait politely; they are, after all, Minnesotans. So I partially excuse these middle-of-the-stairs-talkers as friendly Midwesterners who haven’t yet learned the way of the locals.
But maybe geography has nothing to do with it, and they just don’t realize where they are, don’t realize they’re blocking the way, don’t realize that they’re making other people late. Or maybe I’m too easily irritated.
“Whoa, stairs are hard!” exclaimed a clearly inebriated freshman descending from the rooftops last weekend. Always a fan of witnessing other people’s struggles, I watched as he made it safely down—and then kept walking. I smiled as he stumbled towards Prospect St. Let him be an example to us all.