Revolving doors

    Back where I came from, there were two kinds of doors. Push and pull. It was that simple. There never was any gray area between the two of them (unless you consider the fact that 100% of people disregard the “pull” sign and push them instead).

    But ever since I came here, things have changed. Doors seem to go in a whole new direction now. Instead of the normal push-pull mechanism, they can now revolve! This came as a shock to me. While we have revolving doors in Malaysia, they aren’t nearly as commonplace. The only places they are found in are posh venues where you can enter only if you’re wearing a bow tie. But here, they are everywhere and you can wear anything to go through them.

    Here’s a brief history of the revolving door: the inventor of the revolving door was Theophilus Van Kannel, a man who never got married. People seem to think they were good ideas (both revolving doors and not getting married). The doors are able to save energy by preventing heat from dissipating out into the open, as well as to provide crowd control. I don’t know how a simple revolving door can achieve this, but I think it has something to do with physics.

    Theo didn’t know if revolving doors would be useful to society, but they look so classy with their shiny glass panes. They must be good, right?


    No offense Theo, but I don’t like your revolving doors; they are a challenge to go through. Oftentimes, I find myself stranded in a weird predicament. Go too fast, and I hit the glass pane; go too slowly, and the glass pane hits me. It doesn’t help, either, when the idiot behind me decides to push the door as hard as he can, like it’s a game or something.

    And if you’re in a hurry, it gets worse. No matter how late you are for something, you just can’t stumble into the same “cubicle” as someone else and expect the situation to not get awkward. You just can’t. I did that once at Norris, and trust me, the few seconds I spent with the stranger inside the door seemed like ages. If the compartment were any smaller, our bodies would be touching. I half-heartedly muttered a “hi” so it would break the awkward tension, but he didn’t respond. So I shut up and we revolved in awkwardness.

    One of the first times I used a revolving door in America was at an apartment just outside of Evanston. The four-compartment door just wouldn’t move. I even tried leaning against the door, hoping to move it with my body weight. Figuring I would look less stupid if I just called my friend who lived inside, I dialed for help.

    “Dude, come open the door for me. I’m here.”

    “Nigel, you’re 19, you can enter a building by yourself. Use the revolving door, that’s the one that isn’t locked.”

    “I’m telling you, it’s not budging. At all.”

    “Just push it harder.”

    “I’m pushing it as hard as I can man, any harder and the glass will break.”

    “Are you pushing it counter-clockwise?”


    A swish and 180 degrees later, I was inside the building, thinking a little bit less of myself.

    Congratulations Theo: your technological innovation saves energy, controls crowds and look classy. But sometimes I feel like I need to read a manual before using them.


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    Nigel Ng, Oct. 24, 2010