Fall is a perfect time to reflect on different subjects while you are enjoying being outside. Here are a few items I contemplated while on a few recent walks.
I don’t think there are a lot of cities with as many outdoor public stairways as Athens, Ohio. Other city residents may take them for granted or not even notice them, but we have them everywhere in town and I constantly seem to be trudging up them. I would venture to say we have the most outdoor public steps in the region and possibly even the Tri-State Area!
It’s comforting to know that nearly wherever you are in the country, you are usually in a Tri-State Area of some sort or another. I always wonder about those people out west who live in a Quadruple State Region. I bet they think they are special.
And how about people in other continents who live in Tri-Country Areas? That must be something.
I have a lot of time to focus on important topics like this while I am constantly walking up the many public stairways we have in town. I go up public stairways on my way to work, when I am jogging, when I am on campus and I even walk up them and then sit on them at the Courthouse in order to watch thousands of people in crazy Halloween costumes parade up and down Court Street (our main street).
I rarely seem to walk down the steps.
Growing up in flat Defiance County in northwest Ohio, we had no need for outdoor public stairways, so I am always a little amazed at how many we have here and how difficult they must have been to build.
Along with the stairs, though, we have the wonderful escalator in the student center on campus. While I love the escalator, I do wonder about certain points of escalator etiquette or “escalatoriquette” such as:
How many steps should there be between me and the next person? Two? That almost seems like we are too close. Three? I don’t want to insult the person by staying too far away. Are people offended if I leave four steps between me and the next person?
And what if I know the person I am escalating with? Am I obligated to stand on the very next step? Do couples stand on the same step? Escalatoriquette is truly a complex subject.
It’s amazing how escalators can make you feel special, like you are royalty being carried and up down hills. This contrasts with my feelings of serfdom on cold winter mornings when I am slowly ascending the long outdoor public steps on my way to work.
At the bottom of the escalator in the student center is the food court, which always has good food but now has something even more exciting, new fork dispensers!
You may think I am kidding, but I love the new fork dispensers. One big advantage is that the forks drop down individually, so you only touch the one fork you want. This is much better than thinking about how many people touch the plastic forks in traditional round fork bins. Also, after you pull a fork out by the handle, another fork magically drops down the steps on the inside and then its handle pops out. It is fun, it is much more sanitary and it makes me happy every time I see it.
Speaking of happy, while walking around town the other day
and enjoying the leaves that are beginning to fall, I smiled when I saw what appeared to be a giant Noo Noo sucking up leaves. If you or your children watched Teletubbies, you know that the Noo Noo was a pet-like vacuum for the Teletubbies. It was both cute and terrifying.
If you think about it, it was also a precursor to the Roomba and other automatic vacuums and is just another example of the Teletubbies clearly predicting the future.
Anyway, I watched the giant Noo Noo happily cleaning up the grass and eating the leaves, and it brought back countless memories. I wanted to hug it, but I was too scared and continued my walk toward more steps.
One thing that does not make me happy this fall is when I come across a ginkgo tree. I realize that many people like the leaves and that these trees provide supposedly great benefits like oxygen, but the ginkgo “nuts” smell terrible. After walking under a ginkgo tree in the fall, it looks and smells like I have walked through dog poop. Frankly, I question if the oxygen is worth the terrible smell.
What we need in our city is to have a new ginkgo Noo Noo sucking up the smelly nuts so that they can be buried in a different Tri-State Area.
Or maybe I just need to stop being so cranky after walking up stairs every day.
Someday life will be much, much easier when we all have outdoor public escalators and giant outdoor slides that we can enjoy on our way to work, once again, just as the Teletubbies foretold.