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Adam Kaminski | The Cool Column

Poor pedestrians, perilous paths

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:02

Last semester I was so fortunate as to travel to New York City, the land of tourists, trappers and tourist trappers. I traveled with a few friends, and the trip as special and as tourist-trapped as I had hoped it would be. Our blissful weekend getaway, however, was a single foot away from being an absolute nightmare. I’ll explain.

On our way to Ellen’s Stardust Diner (I said tourist-trapped, yes?) while crossing an apparently dangerously busy street, a good friend of mine came within a foot of an impatient and aggressive taxi. Who’s to blame isn’t totally irrelevant because, really, they both were. Didn’t your high school chemistry teacher ever tell you not to mix crazed taxi drivers and ignorant friends?

But in the spirit of blaming others, I’d like to designate a third guilty party: university campuses. School has taught me a tremendous amount in less than a year — some things that I’m proud of (how to craft five-star desserts), and some things that I’m not (how to proudly and continuously eat five-star desserts). The scope of collegiate education extends past the dining hall, of course, and, as we see here, into the realm of pedestrianism.

Living on a college campus has made me, as it evidently has made others, a horrible pedestrian. I walk hurriedly, keep my eyes to the group and look both ways while crossing the street. It’s a miracle I don’t have TUPD’s phone number on speed dial, assuming speed dial is still a thing people do.

College is a very literal and somewhat symbolic crossroads on a few accounts. I’d bet you that the Talbot and Latin Way intersection exists (I’d win) and I know that my peers, my friends who come from all over the world, will disembark once again into the world after our four years are through. College is a meeting place and a leaving place.

It’s also a place to choose your path, maybe even your destination. Here, it again functions somewhat like the physical intersection or crossroad. Do I walk down toward Granoff? Uphill toward the library? Do I cross the street to indulge in Dewick? The answer is clear: Dewick.

The answer isn’t always this easy — not when the questions are in terms of critical life choices and real life crossroads (not that Sundae Sunday isn’t a real delight). Tottering between majors, sifting through minors, maintaining a social life, sleeping (there’s a thought...) and everything else college requires can make pedestrianism particularly challenging.

This challenge can potentially lead to the deterioration of college navigating habits: pedestrian habits. When there’s work, why see friends? When there are friends, why work? Why focus on your studies when everything is so darn interesting? Juggling collegiate life, trying to find your path, is tantamount to walking through a college campus, hardly looking up because you’re so stressed and hardly looking both ways because you’re in such a rush. I think four years is shorter than I think.

It doesn’t take a university-educated chap to understand the blatant consequences of such pedestrian habits. Taken literally, well, death. But although maintaining life and your life’s future is of the utmost importance in this case (as it is in most) maintaining a healthy life is important too. Literal and symbolic rash pedestrianism may involve missing opportunities to enjoy life’s more subtle components.

Academics, careers and relationships are all important, but so are these subtle features: the faces you pass, the clouds you ignore, and the fliers you don’t read while running late to your seminar. College has taught me a tremendous amount. Amidst it all, however, it’s important that I remember how to be an aware, awake, and active pedestrian.

Next time I’m in NYC with friends, I’ll make sure we all look both ways.

 

Adam Kaminski is a freshman who has yet to declare a major. He can be reached at Adam.Kaminski@tufts.edu.

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