Button Pushers

One day there was an elevator repairman working in the lobby, so it was the the perfect time to ask a question that vexed me: Hey, about that close door button — does it really work?

For years I’ve watched as people furiously push the close door button on the elevators in my building. This always seemed odd, especially on the way up. Are you really in that big a hurry to get to your office? Good for you, you eager beaver!

He was happy to talk elevators. “Oh, it works — but only when the elevator is in manual mode, like when the fire department is operating it. These doors are timed, and there’s nothing you do can make them close more quickly.” He went on to explain that it assures the elevators are accessible.

This is due to rules in the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 that established standards for how long the door should stay open to accommodate folks with mobility issues. You can’t just override that and make the door shut faster, and this button does not do what many people assume it does.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to watch people press that button. For some folks it must be satisfying to push a button and see the door shut, even if in truth they did not cause it to close. To others, it may feel like a tiny space in their lives where they can exert some control over the universe. I get that. Either way, I will keep my mouth shut. Nobody likes a know it all.

Cover Your Ears

“That kid’s a terrible dancer!”

When I said that to my wife I was just kidding, but only a bit. Many of the little kids wildly dancing around in circles at this month’s Irish 2000 Festival, really were terrible dancers.

But could it be that some of them couldn’t hear the music?

A number of parents had outfitted their little squirts with earmuff style hearing protection to guard their wee ears from the Screaming Orphans up on stage.

I’ve seen this before, but never have I seen so many kids with the colorful protective devices. And they were side-by-side with just as many (or more) young kids without them.

Now, this is not the place for my observations about the parents. It would be wrong to make snap judgements based on their appearance, and I would never suggest that the ear muff crowd looked like insufferably annoying people. That would be wrong, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, I trust that the ear muff children will grow up enjoying the benefits that come with having better hearing: they will be more attentive in school, get better grades, go to more prestigious universities, earn more money and subsequently be better citizens.

In the end, the ear muff parents will have the last laugh against those fools that allowed their kids to enjoy themselves bare-eared without the encumbrance of those ridiculous looking but extremely practical accessories. The rewards in life will not go to the best dancers, but to the ones with the clearest hearing.