I’ve always hated revolving doors: in airports, subway stations, malls, office buildings—whether empty or crowded—their glass panes stare me down; they threaten or at the very least, dare me. In an empty building, I can bravely accept their challenge; I can be victorious. I slow my city hustle pace to a stand still, stare intently through their smudge panes, take a deep breath, and push as hard as I can to get through as quickly as possible. To date, I have avoided entrapment (knock on wood).
However, in a crowded building, the challenge is much greater; the risk is not entrapment, but amputation. In spite of the increased risk, there is no time for strategy or to gather my courage; I cannot simply stop abruptly, in the middle of foot traffic, to wait until the doors are clear of naïve shoppers, travelers and men in suits, so that I, alone, can face off with the revolving doors. To do so would be sure suicide.
No. Instead, I have to quickly slip between the doors, moving at exactly the right speed, quickly estimating the force necessary to coordinate with my fellow travelers so that we can keep the doors revolving smoothly, and thus avoid bodily injury.
On a groggy morning, this is a very dangerous endeavor: any little misstep, any minor slip on a wet tile, any falter in my internal metronome could mean sure death. It’s a miracle, really, that I have survived twenty-six (26) years of my life unharmed by a revolving door. On an average day, I pass through ten (10): from the Back Bay train station, cutting through Copley Plaza and then the Prudential Center, I easily hit five (5) one way. It’s incredible that I still have all four of my limbs and all ten of my digits in tact.
Now, I don’t watch the local nightly news, nor do I read the who-was-murdered-where section of the local paper, so I can’t be sure, but I seems from my removed perspective that there a surprisingly low number of fatalities result from revolving doors.
Yet, a minimal amount of research indicates that revolving doors are indeed a safety hazard, and that electronic revolving doors are worse. Between 1991 and 1992 there were forty (40) revolving door accidents in Los Angeles, twenty-two (22) involved the elderly and infirm, one quarter of whom were using walking aids, most of the remainder involved young children (http://www.hse.gov.uk/lau/lacs/17-4.htm).
In June of 1994, a mechanical error led one pane of a revolving door to jam and the following pane to swing forward, slamming into the body of a woman and pinning her between the two glass panels (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=3rd&navby=case&no=986470).
As recently as March 17th, 2005 a 6 year old boy was murdered by an electronic revolving door in Japan. The prosecutors indicted three “professionals” for negligence (http://www.hvbg.de/e/bia/akt/karussel1.html), but we all know that it was not human error that led to this tragic event, but the inherent malady of revolving doors.
Thus, my concerns are vindicated. Maybe after the Revolution, or perhaps after I retired from organizing workers and fighting capitalism, I’ll lead a charge against revolving doors. In the mean time, I suppose I will have to continue traveling through these ominous portholes; I will continue to knock on wood, take deep breaths and search for four-leaf clovers. I will not, however, put up with metaphorical revolving doors in my personal life. That’s where I draw the line.