How to be less selfish, faster, and more fit

This is not a column lecturing you to be more environmentally friendly. I’m not here to try to convince you to go out of your way to become more socially responsible citizens of Mother Earth. Rather, this is a column that tries to make sense of people who do non-environmentally-friendly activities that actually waste their time and contribute to their laziness-slash-obesity. I shall focus on two wonderful inventions that have helped make life much easier for our wheelchair-bound friends and individuals carrying large objects that block most of their vision: elevators and the handicap automatic door openers.

Elevators and the handicap automatic door openers are definitely two of the luxuries we abuse way, way, way too much on a daily basis. They require energy that demands the use of electricity, which we already use too much of. Think about it: a car full of passengers and loaded with heavy suitcases going up a hill would eat up a lot of gas, wouldn’t it? If a fat kid got on a seesaw with a skinny kid, the fat one would have to use more force to push himself up, wouldn’t he? The same principle applies to an elevator packed with people going up; the more people in the elevator, the more energy is needed.

Therefore, if you just have to go up two or three floors, you’d not only be doing the Earth a tiny little favor by using only your body weight to go up instead of contributing to the additional elevator weight, you’d also be doing your own body a favor. Walking up the stairs, no matter how little, will increase your heart rate and increase the flow of your blood, keeping your fitness in check. Taking the stairs everyday will add up in the end.

Not only that, with the crappy elevators we have on campus, we’d probably arrive the floor of our destination before the elevator does, anyway! Believe me, I’ve tested this multiple times. Even when I walk eight floors up, I beat the elevator. Every time, baby.

Speaking of the eighth floor, I lived that many floors up during my sophomore year. It was also the year of my English courses from hell. My homework assignments had me stuck on the couch for hours on end. I barely worked out that entire year, but I didn’t gain much weight. Know why?

That’s right, I took the stairs every single day. Sure, that meant by the time I went into the living room, I’d be clutching the door and panting for a full minute before I could say anything, but damn it, I stayed in shape!
Even if you’re one of those people who pride on never needing to work out because you have a metabolism that allows you to eat a full box of Oreos every other day and still look like you just came from the gym, at least take the stairs to go down. Don’t worry; it’s not really exercising. It’s more of letting gravity do its job. You’re just leaning forward and navigating.

So, to sum it up, taking the elevator would mean: wasting unnecessary energy, waiting longer to get to your destination, and losing the opportunity to exercise your legs. In other words, taking the stairs instead would make you a less selfish, less slow, and less lazy human being. I might sound harsh, but I’m telling it like it is.

However, don’t think that the next time I see you waiting for the elevator, I’m going to immediately judge you and that my nose’s a little higher in the air when I pass by you for the door to the stairs. I’m human; I do take the elevator when I’m tired, not wearing comfortable shoes, in some kind of pain, or happen to be feeling extremely lazy. But I do hope that this column will at least encourage us all to take the better option when we really could.

One thing that bothers me much more than taking the elevator when we don’t really need to is how often we abuse the handicap automatic door openers on campus. I’m sorry, but if you’re not either of the following three options: in a wheelchair, in crutches, or carrying something large, then you do not absolutely have any reason to use the button that is designed for people in wheelchairs, period.

It’s pretty unbelievable how often I see people walk towards a door and then suddenly stop, hit the handicap button, and wait for the doors to slowly grind open. Just as it is with elevators, this technology actually takes longer than if you were to perform this function with your own body. Seriously, you’re willing to come to a full halt and wait an extra 15 seconds just because you don’t want to use your own energy and arm muscles to simply push or pull the door open?

Okay, I just can’t suppress the urge to emphasize how ridiculous this concept is. Pushing and pulling are two of the most basic actions of mankind. We’ve been doing it since we were toddlers. How often did those verbs come into action throughout our childhood? Five-year-old best friends, using their non-existential muscles, pulled each other on their wagon. Before bullies learned advanced insult words, they pushed down the scrawniest kid in class. Fast-forward to twenty years later, we’re too lazy to use our grown, fully-developed adult arms to just push or pull a door open. Actually, excuse my plurality — it only takes one arm.

The fact that we over-abuse the handicap automatic door openers is also incredibly unfair to those who actually do need them. The automatic openers aren’t invincible; they do break, and when that happens, people in wheelchairs or crutches suffer. It’s just wrong that the openers were designed for them, but they’re the minority. The majority that are able to open the doors themselves end up using the openers the most, wearing them down to the point where repair is needed.

Sure, the automatic openers do come in handy for the general population at times, but we need to stop using them anytime without care. It does require energy for the automatic openers to work, and while one press of the button might not make a dent in our environment, it adds up. Millions of individuals, not just at Gallaudet, use the automatic openers instead of the energy that comes from our own bodies… you know, the kind that doesn’t affect the environment at all.

The elevators and handicap automatic door openers have become an everyday luxury that we take for granted, but it’s a luxury that most of us can and should easily live without.

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One Response to “How to be less selfish, faster, and more fit”

  1. Jennifer
    June 2, 2012 at 6:46 PM #

    This articles makes a lot of sense. Especially the other part about the handicap door opener. I appreciate that, in a way it humored me. Thank you. 🙂

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