Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Human

It will probably surprise few of you that, when I walk around this campus, I find myself quite frequently annoyed. I watch the walking, talking, and general human-ing etiquette of my fellow students, and I grow angry and perplexed. "How do they think it's okay to block the entire sidewalk?" I wonder to myself. "Why does this person refuse to walk at a different pace from me?" I query. People just don't know how to conduct themselves in a way that acknowledges other human beings, and I am sick of it. My fellow classmates and Notre Dame denizens clearly need some lessons in how to share space with other people, and I am here to teach them. In this guide, neatly alphabetized because I am neurotic, I will address some of the many things that people on this campus seem not to know how to do, and I will teach them in the proper ways of the human.

Avoiding snow and ice. I don't know if you've noticed, but in about 49 of the 50 states, it has snowed a lot this winter. While the grounds crew here at ND really has done an admirable job of cleaning and clearing our sidewalks, it's not always possible to keep these pathways completely free of wintry precipitation. Snow, ice, and slush build up around the edges of the sidewalks, and you know something? No one wants to walk on that. If you see from down the sidewalk that you're about to hit a one-lane dry stretch at the same time as another person, do your best to help a brotha/sista out. Slow or quicken your pace to ensure that you hit the slippery spot at different times. If you're not in a hurry, stop for a second and let the other person pass. I did this recently while in an uncharacteristically good mood, and from the look on the other person's face, I wasn't sure if I had let them pass safely on the sidewalk or handed them $20. Make people happy! Embrace that the sidewalk is shared by all.

Sometimes, though, you can't avoid walking through an icy patch at the same time as another person. Somebody's gonna get through on dry sidewalk, and the other person's gonna have to skate. A judgment call has to be made. Which brings me to...

Keeping an eye out for shoes. This sounds creepy - because it is, mostly - but I assure you that this simple act will make your life a thousand times easier. When it's clear that either you or your sidewalk companion is about to go off-roading, take a glance at the other person's shoes and at your own. Are you plodding along in Sorel snowboots while the other person skids by on moccasins? Give them the dry part of the sidewalk. Is the other person wearing knee-high Hunter boots while you totter along on stilettos for the career fair? Claim the dry sidewalk for yourself. It's like an extremely petty, simplified version of giving up your seat on the bus for a pregnant lady. If crossing that ice or snow is easier for you than it is for them, bite the bullet and walk on the ice.

Traveling in packs. I'm gonna start this out with a generalization: PEOPLE WHO WALK IN GROUPS IN THE WINTER ARE THE WORST, AND I HATE ALL OF YOU. I mean, honestly. Look at how hard it can be to get two strangers across a snowy sidewalk at the same time - what are you, big group, supposed to do when faced with someone coming from the opposite direction? You are making everyone's life hard. Stop doing what you are doing.

If you can't or don't want to stop walking in groups, though - ugh, sociable people, am I right? - there's still a pretty simple fix. Fall into single file when other people come along who need to cross your path. I'm not saying you have to stop and arrange yourselves with military precision; just make some room. You wouldn't want to walk through mud/snow/ice/puddles for 10 feet just because a sidewalk-width group of people failed to notice your presence, so don't force other people to do so, either.

BONUS: How to human in the dining hall. For the love of all that is holy, do not, ever, under any circumstances, sit alone in the dining hall in such a way that you are directly facing another person sitting alone in the dining hall. We all know what I'm talking about. You enter the DH, tray in hand, and decide to sit "right left." Upon finding an empty table, you notice that the person at the table you just passed is facing away from the dining room entrance. When you go to sit down, then, OH, MY GOD, do not face toward the entrance. You are forcing that person to stare at you for his or her entire meal, and it is nothing but uncomfortable and terrible and something I literally would not wish on my worst enemy. A side note? I've met people before who do this on purpose. You people are what's wrong with America. You're all of it. You're childhood obesity. You're low STEM test scores. You are the wage gap. By making someone eat their dinner while staring into your face, you are every single ill in our nation, personified. Just know that.

So that really extreme turn of events (for which I do not apologize) basically wraps up what I have to say about how to not be the worst. Take the advice given here, and campus will be a happier, better place. At the very least, you'll have made huge strides toward convincing me not to hate you. You're welcome for the advice, dear readers - I'll see you on the sidewalk.

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