People come to Yale for many reasons. Some come because they have a family legacy, while others boast athletic prowess. I came because I thought getting into Yale magically made you awesome (it seems to have worked on every student but me).
However, if I had to choose one reason to attend Yale, I would pick this place’s power to open doors. From the job market to the corridors of academia to a promising career in inner-tube water polo, there are few doors that Yale leaves closed to its students.
There’s a problem, though. The actual, physical doors here on our campus are slightly less friendly. It may just be my incredible clumsiness, but it seems Yale portals of any kind are to be treated as enemies. Here are some harrowing experiences I have had with doors in my first week on campus.
The worst of the doors are the fire exits. Within 20 seconds of walking into my dorm room in Lanman-Wright Hall, I tripped a fire alarm. Not an alarm in my room, of course, but in the room of a senior living next to me. Terrifying. A security officer dutifully came and turned it off, instructing me to leave that door closed from now on. He left. I opened the same door again. I have now moved my bed in front of it, which probably still won’t be enough to stop me.
While the fire doors are the purest evil, campus gates are equally sadistic. On my first night here, I stood at the West gate to Old Campus and pulled on it for what must have been 10 full minutes before someone came and pressed the button for me. Feeling the need to outdo myself as rapidly as possible, I stood at the same gate on my second night here and pushed on it for just as long until someone came and told me it opened the other way. Clearly I’m not good at learning from experience — I’m also not a legacy or an athlete.
While on the subject of campus gates, I’ve discovered that it’s never good to try and stop a gate from doing what it wants to do. The gates have minds of their own — and, since these are Yale gates, those minds probably have more degrees than I can count on one hand. It’s best to let them do as they wish or pay the consequences. But I didn’t always know this. On one occasion, I got between two gates as they were closing after someone has pushed the automatic door-holding button thingy. The gates refused to stop for me: I was quite literally trapped between the two as they attempted to crush my soul. I now approach the gates as I would the high priest of some demonic deity, hoping for mercy.
Some campus passages aren’t possessed by evil so much as they are hopelessly confusing to navigate. The chief agents of this confusion are doors within doors and doors that don’t go where they ought to go. On the subject of the first, I consider it highly unethical for doors to hide within each other. When I need to go to the bathroom, I don’t want to pass through a set of nine airlocks from the outside world. I just want a toilet. In our dorms’ cavernous hallways, I’ve already done a good portion of the filming for a movie that I’m completely sure will be the sequel to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” working title “Door-ception.” The climactic moment occurs when an exhausted Leo DiCaprio pushes his way through the final exit to Bass Library, only to realize that he’s been in the laundry room in Farnam basement the whole time. Also, his wife is dead or something.
On subject of doors that don’t go where they should, it should be said first that I’m spectacularly stupid.
That said, the doors at Yale rarely seem to go where promised. For every room that a door takes me to successfully, there seem to be three that take me to a different floor or to the office of some sort of janitorial consultant. If anyone has successfully located the room labeled LC 102, that person should talk to me. The door to LC 102 has thus far deposited me in WLH 206, the Harkness Tower bell chamber and the office of President Nixon circa 1971.
All in all, I’ve found more than a few Yale freshmen who have come to hate the campus’s many doors. They confuse us, they maim us, and worst of all, they make us late to Professor Gaddis’ lectures and put us at risk of his benevolent, cartoon-accompanied wrath. To me, however, the misleading and transient nature of Yale’s many portals and passageways serves only to confirm one thing: this isn’t Yale. This is some kind of magical castle. We’d better get used to it.
Robert Peck is a freshman in Berkeley College.