It’s been a quiet summer around the college. The hallways were pretty much as open and carefree as a lazy summer mind, the silence broken only occasionally by the sound of flip-flops slapping the floor. I even saw some people getting down with creative dance moves with all that space to fill.
This week is a different story. You don’t keep your eyes open out there, you’re liable to go under in the crush. People are everywhere, standing in lineups, standing in groups outside classroom doors, walking backwards while they try to read signs and figure out where they are compared to where they should be . . . not to mention the late students (and the late instructors) racing to be in class on time.
It’s going to be this way for the next little while, before people give up coming to class, or before they figure out where their classes are and what the most efficient route is from place to place. Or before they stop worrying about being on time. So here are a few well-tried tips to make it through the throng.
1. Don’t Make Eye Contact – if you make eye contact with the dude slouching down the hall towards you, you’re going to feel an obligation to be polite. If you don’t make eye contact and oops – you whack him with your bag full of sharp-cornered textbooks – well, he’s never going to even know you saw him.
2. The Pointed Glare – there IS a time and a place for eye contact, and that’s when there are three girls coming towards you, walking side by side, talking about whatever it is young and hip people are watching on TV these days and completely oblivious to the fact that they are clogging up a thoroughfare. Give them a dirty look or at least a pointed one, and one of them will nudge her friends and say “Hey, look out”. Guaranteed.
3. Shoulders and Elbows First – don’t present your softer, more vulnerable parts to the flying limbs all around you. Lead with your shoulders and if necessary, stick your elbows up a bit to protect you.
4. Think Ahead – think several steps ahead. Look for gaps. If your classroom door is on the right side of the hall and you are being swept along by a left-side crowd, get ready to make your move well in advance of the door, just the way you’d make a lane change well in advance of an exit. Otherwise, you’re going to be backtracking and it’s really hard to find a place to U-turn.
5. One with the Crowd – if you’re headed all the way across campus and don’t have to make an exit till you reach the wide open spaces of the library, just go with the flow. Get in the middle of a moving throng and let the momentum sweep you along.
Good luck out there!