It’s the little things that count. But not in the way you’d expect. This campus is full of neglect. No, I am not talking about the stray Geny Lite cans that float like tumbleweeds across the quad when it’s 2 p.m. on Sunday and there are only three conscious people on campus. I’m talking about the little things we are all guilty of that make this place just a little worse:

Like when it’s 5 p.m. crunch time at Goergen. The cardio area looks like a PetCo people are spinning around left and right like hamsters on a wheel. Finally, one of the many bodies in motion ceases in their tracks. You look at them; they look at you. Eyes lock. It’s international gym code for: ‘I have chosen you as my successor.” You imagine jumping on the machine, grinding out some sweat to Britney Spears’s latest moan-fest about how she either a) only wants you, baby b) doesn’t want you, bitch or c) wants you, and that guy over there, too.

You walk over. The previous tenant smiles at you and descends. You wait, expectant that they will return to crown you as the new commander of the calisthenics contraption before you. But they don’t come back. They walk away, leaving H1N1 bacterial cells the size of quarters dripping from the handlebars. You think, ‘Hey buddy, might as well just spit in my mouth while you’re at it.” To these people, I’d like to say that the people wiping down their machines next to you aren’t practicing for their majors in window washing. They are being good, clean citizens in a world of pigs. They say, ‘Say it, don’t spray it.” I say, ‘Shut up. Spray it.”

If someone tried to charge you $8 for three chicken fingers, you’d assume it had to be chicken fingers engineered by NASA you were at a restaurant matriculating the likes of Hollywood gurus like Perez Hilton’s chunky butt. So I guess it’s a shock to people that the Pit is a serve-yourself sort of establishment. Note that the pretty girl took that drink back to her own table and, gasp, drank it herself instead of serving it to you. You purchased your appetizer of Bosco sticks at the same time as your pizza slice. Despite the deceiving prices, the Pit is not a restaurant, which is why it’s so interesting when a person sits down, eats their meal and just leaves. In their wake is a scene of carnage: a soda cup disembodied from a bitten straw, surviving curly fries bleeding ketchup onto the table and a plethora of crusty, used napkins left to hang in the wind. No one picks up your trash but you. There are starving kids in China and apparently lazy kids in Rochester.

Doing your laundry is a long, frustrating process that can make grown men weep like little girls’ SIMS when they aren’t directed to the bathroom in time. The laundry room can make you very, very angry.

But, when you open a washing machine and there are wet clothes in it, resist the temptation to hulk out. Instead of chucking the clothes clumsily and carelessly on top of the washer, walk two feet. Shove them into the dryer. Go ahead. Make those tube socks suffer. Just remember to turn that dial to 30 for light loads and press start before you punch a wall and throw that freshman into the trash bin.

We all wish we could have magical powers. Papers would be written in minutes, margaritas would flow from the fountain soda dispensers in Douglass and every day the sun would shine as brightly on Wilson Commons as it does on Cabo. But fantasy isn’t reality.

We’re mortals, and pressing the handicap buttons may seem like a magical power, but this isn’t Hogwarts. This is America, and everyone can press the button.

Likewise, everyone could stop wasting electricity and promoting a culture of sloth by not pressing the buttons. You can keep your other magic powers like the gravity one just stop hitting those damn buttons.

I’m not talking about relayering the ozone or jumping on nukes to disarm them. I’m talking about those slightly lazy, slightly annoying activities that, if rectified, would make life a trifle easier.

Take the 10 seconds to wipe off your treadmill or throw away your trash. Open a door. You just never know where your little steps can take you.

Schneier is a member of the class of 2011.

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