Colleagues and cohorts, a plague of debilitating handicaps has washed over our beloved campus, and I’m seeing it everywhere. First there was the girl near the ITS Center who, though appearing fine, displayed the telltale signs of a headache.

Soon it seemed that the more I looked, the more I saw — strep throats and sore arms and pulled muscles, not to mention the cavities and indigestion. To the uninitiated, it may seem that there’s not a problem at all, but looks can be deceiving. At any given moment, everyone on this campus is, in their own subtle way, actually quite handicapped.Fortunately, though, we have the blue buttons — our wall-mounted saviors.

It is impossible to overestimate the usefulness of these blue handicap access buttons on such an injury-ridden campus — in fact, it seems that the majority of the UR populous would be all but completely lost without such a system. I know that with all of the recurring toothaches I get, I’ve come to depend on the buttons.

Every time I see the tunnels backed up behind a single open door, I know that every student that presses the button and strolls through that door — some perhaps with a bit of a cough, others suffering silently with a jammed pinky — are just as grateful. We’re lucky to have a system that doesn’t discriminate by injury. Someone hobbles up behind you on crutches? Hop in the queue — I’ve got a sore back. It truly is equal-opportunity assistance.

But the value of the blue button system doesn’t end there. For one, there’s the fun factor. How else but with the button can you open a door with a behind the back tag? Or with a skirted butt-bump? Or with, as I once saw a fellow of diminutive stature perform, a firm headbutt? Quite simply, you can’t. If nothing else, our harrowing injuries bring out the creativity in us, and dammit, if I can’t run through the tunnels, jump at the button, kick spin off of the wall, and continue running through the now-open door — well, I really don’t want that door open.

And you can’t overlook the aphrodisiac qualities of a smooth button-tap. Have you ever been on a date in the basements of Bausch and Lomb, hands full of snacks and sodas, when you confront a closed door? Everyone knows that not holding the door for your lady is a romantic faux-pas, so instead of littering the floor with your armful of Doritos, just give the button a swift kick. Then smile proudly as your flattered date walks through the doorway. Nowadays, chivalry isn’t dead — it’s mechanical.

One shouldn’t ignore the economic standpoint, either. Conventional door opening methods can be expensive. The word on the street is that UR Facilities plans to remove extraneous handles and bars from the doors around campus, citing the escalating costs of weekly polishing — money that can be spent better elsewhere, such as for additions to the Hive.

Of course, the buttons do come with their disadvantages. I think everyone here can attest to a case or two of button-blow-by — those times in a hurry when you lash out wildly at that circle on the wall, only to miss and go skittering by. Strike one, pal — back it up and try again. I myself have had occasions of two, even three fly-bys before I made successful contact, and that’s far from the worst of it. In my blow-by-documenting days I’ve seen countless tragedies — the bone crushing closed-door collision, the agonizing missed-button wall punch, a few dire reach-back floor falls and, on one particularly gruesome occasion, three broken ribs and a shattered collarbone. Needless to say, you don’t see injuries like that often.

And even if the buttons aren’t producing further injuries for our peers, they can still present a nuisance. We all know, for one, that the lines can get a bit aggravating. Yet, what are you going to do? We obviously can’t rush our wounded classmates. And opening the other, buttonless door? Heresy! It’s like they — and by they, I mean old school buttoneers — say, “If you don’t press, you don’t pass.” But perhaps the aspect of the buttons that scares me the most is my helpless reliance on them. I still shudder to think of the day when I was between Morey and Lattimore and the power went out. Panicking, I ran up and down the tunnels pressing every blue button I could find, but to no avail. I was hopelessly trapped. I spent 15 lonely hours in those tunnels, reading the same movie flyer over and over again. It’s a fate I would wish upon no one. Sadly, it was a fate wrought from button dependency.

Despite that dark afternoon, I wouldn’t trade the handicap access buttons for anything. I won’t be happy until every door I encounter is handicap-accessible. My dorm room, my bathroom, my closet, my medicine cabinet — hell, even the tiny wooden doors on my prized Salvation Army coffee table. I want a blue button on ’em all, and I think I’m entitled to it.

Because, after all, my foot hurts. Janowitz is a junior and can be reached at njanowitz@campustimes.org.



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