Walking Up the Down Stairwell

Gordon Dewey04/01/2022April 2022


#From the field


To most here at Tech, the prospect of walking up the stairwell that is clearly and well known to be for downwards travel only is ridiculous. “Who would commit such a heinous act!” says Shrunglo McBunkley, their face turning a deep red in anger at such an idea. However, James does this on a near daily basis. Is it the simple inability to understand basic rules? Some strange attraction or high? The hatred of any basic order AND THE LOVE OF PURE CHAOS?!? Well, we asked James to write to us a bit about his perspective so we can better understand why he would make such choices. Here’s what we got. When I see a stairway, I see more than just a way to move between floors. Some schmuck named Robert Frost famously wrote “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” After ripping open and devouring fifteen fortune cookies in a row, all of which contained this exact phrase, I realized it was my calling. Now I walk in the street, bike on the sidewalk, and never use the up stairwell. For me, just entering the stairwell takes courage. I walk slowly as I brace myself for the tens of slightly annoyed faces that I will see and will haunt me tonight in my sleep. I mentally prepare for the nudges and “'scuse me’s” that I will need to say. I wonder if, just maybe, none of this is worth it. I could just skip school or leave early, it would be so much easier. But no, that will not do. I become strong and take the plunge.

Immediately, I am consumed by the surrounding students. My vision is blurred but that's just because I took off my glasses. I’m like a fish swimming up stream except that the stream is full of other fish that are migrating downstream and I'm just a fish that got turned around and is lost. What a sad little fish. Every step is a struggle. I must push on but with little to grab my arms begin to flail. Damn, I should have brought my cane. Why couldn't everyone just move to one side and let me go up the down staircase? Sure it might slow them down a bit but it is not a minor inconvenience to humor a poor man's wish to take the path less traveled. DO THESE PEOPLE EVEN READ ROBERT FROST? As I work closer to the second floor, time fades away. All I know is the step above and below me and the constant force of those walking to my sides. Brushing past my shoulder they begin to strip me of my skin so only my bones remain. I am raw to the world around me and I am humbled. I am one with the lint and the empty candy wrapper on the floor. I begin to wonder what the mea- CRAP! As my foot locks with someone elses the next step races towards my face. My eyes are clamped shut. I brace for impact but that impact never comes. Instead I fall through the steps to a new world. Stairs, now crystal, adorned with gold and silver, line every surface. People can walk on any side of the stairs: the tops, bottems, lefts and rights. Am I in M.C. Escher’s stairway heaven? Why is there an odd thumping in my head? What happened to physics?

A man wearing a black tuxedo runs up to me and hands me a box. Oh my god, is this a wedding ring? No, it's a fortune cookie, the same kind that I have eaten so many of. I think I have a stomach ache. I wonder if this is my reward for taking so many paths less traveled. I rip it open and take a look. It says “Take the elevator you idiot.”

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