Thanks to a man named Theophilus Van Kannel, who lived in Philadelphia in the nineteenth century, we have a ubiquitous, infernal contraption called the revolving door.§ Many people would consider him a genius and a great boon to mankind. The rest of us think he should have been tarred, feathered and doomed to go in and out, through one of his revolving torture devices, for all eternity, world without end.
Revolving doors wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the people who use them.
The thing is, if you are the first person to enter a revolving door, the damn thing won’t move unless you really push, and this can take a few seconds. This is true for everybody, even if you are the kind of person who usually moves so fast that your left foot is already three-quarters of the way forward before your right foot has touched the ground. You are still going to get stuck for a few seconds trying to get a freakin’ revolving door to move. Not only does this slow you down, it causes you to lean forward with the upper part of your body, which, in turn, can cause you to stick out your rear end and your heels, which, in turn, can potentially make it easy for you to tip over, making you look like a really uncoordinated ass.
Okay, aside from the inconvenience of looking like a temporary klutz, as long as we are alone, most of us can get through a revolving door without mishap. Notice I said “as long as we are alone.” That is the rub. Unfortunately, revolving doors are designed to accommodate more than one person at a time, and chances are there will be at least one other person right behind you, possibly two or three or more. That’s when you really get into trouble.
You, the first person through the door, have been doing all the work of pushing it, and a momentum has been created. The next person entering the contraption after you only has to barely touch it to increase the momentum. You, in the meantime, are still trying to right yourself after leaning forward and sticking out your rear end and your heels. You are at the mercy of the person behind you and the slab of glass he (or she) is operating. If the person is in a hurry, or has a Superman complex, and touches the door just a little bit too hard, any one of the following things could happen:
1. You get an unexpected lesson in how to fly without wings.
2. You lose your shoe when it gets caught in the door.
3. You lose your shoe, get an unexpected flying lesson, then turn around and scream every obscenity you know, in at least three languages, at the idiot who pushed you.
Turnstiles can be another source of urban peril. The problem with turnstiles is that you often have people on both sides of them, one person wanting to enter the station (or whatever) and one wanting to leave. Whoever gets there first usually wins, often followed by several other people going in the same direction, leaving the person on the other side standing there waiting for a chance to slip through, followed by whoever is behind him.
Urban living is not for wimps.
§ See “The Nonist” at http://thenonist.com/index.php/weblog/permalink/the_secret_history_of_the_revolving_door/