Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Automatic doors

There's a way into our local Shopping Centre (the nearest way in if you start from our house) which has two sets of doors, one at the outer end of the passage and one at the inner end.

Actually there are four sets of doors, two at the outer end and two at the inner end, so if there are a lot of people coming and going the ones going in can go through one set of double doors and the ones going out can go through another set and they don't get into collisions. It's sensible, on the whole, to keep left, which is the normal way of doing these things in this country.

The doors on the right as you go in are automatic doors, at both ends of the corridor. The double doors on the left are ordinary doors, such that you can push them from either side. It's a lot quicker to go through the ones that you push, because you don't have to wait for them to sense you and then open for you. The automatic ones are particularly irritating when you're approaching from the side where they open into your face.

There's also another reason why it's a lot quicker and easier to go through the non-automatic doors. It's because everyone else is trying to squeeze through the automatic ones.

Young and old, fit and unfit, slim and obese, the lot. They would prefer to jam themselves into a bottle neck with all the rest of the lazy bunch of chavs rather than push a door open.

In fact some of them stand outside the non-automatic doors and smoke, and look most surprised when someone (i.e. me) comes out that way. I do so habitually, partly because I think a little exercise to the muscles of the arms, chest and abdomen will be good for me. It's not much, but if you do it regularly I presume it helps to keeps them in trim.

So there are three advantages to going through the doors that you push: (1) speed, (2) not having to negotiate a way through a crowd of fat and unattractive specimens of humanity, (3) improved fitness.

A fourth advantage is that you use your own renewable energy, not the electricity that powers the mechanism of the doors.

And why would you prefer to go through the automatic doors, assuming you're not in a wheel chair or walking with a stick? Because you're lazy? Any other reason?


Gene O'Grady said...

I can add a fourth reason why those things are an abomination based on my time doing budgets for a medical center facilities department, which is that they very quickly reach a point where they go down constantly and the repairs are expensive, unreliable, and unpleasant. A good maintenance man can fix the old style doors, but these new things require and off-site specialist in my experience.

Catherine Rowett said...

Yes, good point, though it has to be said that it was the ordinary door that was barriered off "for maintenance" last time I went that way. I sometimes wonder, though, whether they just do that out of perversity. I couldn't see any sign of anything wrong with it. Probably they'd lost the key.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a bit unreasonable to characterise people who use the automatic doors as "lazy chavs". I know exactly the entrance you mean, and I've never even noticed that there were any non-automatic doors there. I assume that's probably true for other people as well.

Catherine Rowett said...

Well noticing your surroundings is part of being alert and energetic, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The things that I tend actually to notice are other people. Specifically, I'll scan a sea of faces to see if there's anyone I know among them, and I do seem to be better than most people at doing this. Street furniture (or in this case shopping centre furniture) often gets ignored.

Besides, the "doors opening outwards at one" phenomenon is so flustering that one can't concentrate on much else. I'm trying to think whether I'm exaggerating when I say that I've never noticed the other doors. They certainly don't stick in my consciousness as existing, but I suppose it might be that the automatic doors open outwards sufficiently before one arrives at them that the "choice" is pretty much made for one, and thus I don't realise I've made a choice.

Still don't think I'm a lazy chav though!

Catherine Rowett said...

I agree that probably most people head through the door that has opened automatically, and probably vaguely imagine that the other ones have gone wrong, so there's no choice.
Perhaps what I'm arguing for is a bit of a change of attitude, an outlook that says to oneself "is there a better way" and doesn't just go through life doing whatever comes easiest.

Tiger said...

Cathy, if you are alert and energetic you must have noticed that these automatic doors have become almost di rigore for public and commercial new builds and refurbishments over the last few years (in the wake of the Disability Discrimination Act). And unless they're the sliding variety, they have to open outward, disconcerting approaching visitors, so as not to impede the exit flow in an emergency.

One of our new libraries initially had sensors set so sensitively that the doors would flap inanely every time a vehicle (or even a large dog) passed along the street.