HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

July 16, 2007

Going up?

As a freshman at St. Cloud State University, I chose to live in the dorms. I had heard that this was the best way to meet a lot of people in a little bit of time.

The dorm I ended up living in, Sherburne Hall, is the tallest building in St. Cloud. It’s 13 stories tall. I lived on the seventh floor.

Needless to say, I rarely took the stairs.

I requested to live in Sherburne for one reason: I am completely and totally awful with directions. I can manage to get lost almost anywhere.

I figured that if I lived in the tallest building, I could always just look up and find my way “home.”

At this point all of you probably think that I’m an idiot. I mean, who can’t find their way back to their dorm on a college campus?

To my horror, my “flawless” plan backfired on me. I could not see Sherburne Hall from certain points on campus. The first time I realized this I nearly had a panic attack.

But don’t worry; I never found myself to be that lost and within a week, I knew my way around campus like the back of my hand.

Which brings me back to my choice to live in a ludicrously tall building.

Most people who lived in Sherburne Hall always took the elevator.

Heading to class at the last minute was always interesting. I’d sit and wait for that stupid elevator for what felt like forever.

And of course, when it finally came, it was completely packed.

“Room for one more?” I’d ask. Most of the time the answer was yes. However, I often had to wedge myself between the wall and someone else’s bulging backpack and hold my breath.

One time the elevator wouldn’t move because it was over its maximum weight capacity.

Some people had to exit the elevator and take the hated journey down flight after flight of spiraling stairs.

Equally entertaining were the awkward elevator rides that consisted of myself and some other random person whom I didn’t know.

Also, there was no music in these elevators. There was only deafening silence to enhance the already uncomfortable atmosphere. This led to a lot of profound conversations.

For example: “I hate the ‘Family Circus!’” exclaimed some random guy whom I’ve never met (he happened to be browsing through a newspaper).

To which I replied, “Then don’t read it.”

“But I have to! It’s just right there in front of me! I can’t help it!” he shouted as he stormed off the elevator.

I was left alone, giggling at the fact that someone could become so aggrevated by the “funnies” page, as I continued my journey up to the seventh floor.

One of my friends told me an even more ridiculous story that took place in an elevator in Sherburne.

She had brought back an ice cream cone from our lovely cafeteria and had it in her hand while traveling to the 10th floor.

The guy who was in the elevator with her (whom she had never seen before in her life) said, “ I thought the ice cream smelled funny today.”

Due to the somewhat questionable nature of our cafeteria, my friend decided to check out the ice cream herself. She leaned her head in, and took a whiff.

The random stranger then hit the bottom of her ice cream cone and knocked the ice cream into her face.

Stricken, shocked, and irreversibly confused, she stared at the mysterious stranger, then at her ice cream, and then back at the stranger again.

When he got to his floor, he said, “Have a nice day!”

My friend is still currently recovering from the incident.

During one of the last weeks I lived in Sherburne, I was doing laundry and ended up with one other stranger in the elevator.

“It’s nice outside today,” he said.

Gesturing to my laundry basket, I replied, “I wouldn’t know it. At least this is the last time I have to do laundry here.” (I won’t go into the complications of having the one and only laundry room in a 13 story building being located in the basement).

He said that he had been busy with homework and preparing for finals. He hadn’t really been able to enjoy the nice weather either.

“Oh well. Just two more weeks,” he said.

That comment made me sad.

I knew my frequent elevator rides were coming to an end.

But I learned some important lessons from my year in Sherburne Hall: It’s OK to talk to strangers (well, maybe just in elevators). And if someone tells you that your ice cream smells funny, you probably shouldn’t smell it.

And most importantly, taking the stairs may be better for your health, but in my experience, they’re not nearly as entertaining.