Fears. We all have them.
Mostly, they suck. They hold us back, they cripple us, they keep us from doing things we want to.
Me, I don’t have many conventional fears. Spiders? Not a problem. Rats? Fine. Heights? Bring it on! Snakes? …okay, yeah, I’d rather not. I have other things that terrify me, things like oblivion and anonymity and uniformity, but as far as normal, rational, tangible fears go, I don’t have many.
Except one. But since moving to Chicago, I am proud to say that I have almost completely conquered it.
However, it has been replaced by a new and even more crippling one.
Friends, I am no longer afraid of elevators. But I am now terrified of revolving doors1.
Let’s start with the elevators. Until about a month ago, they scared the crap out of me. My irrational fear stems, as most irrational fears do, from a childhood trauma: when I was eight years old and my parents took us to Disney World for the first time, where I faced the Tower of Terror. Though I did not even ride the Tower of Terror, I watched the little information video that comes with your travel package, and that was enough to turn me off of all elevators2. Even those that aren’t in lightning-struck hotels trapped in time.
I’m not entirely sure what it is about elevators that bother me so much3. If I’m in an elevator with a group of people I know, I’m generally okay. Riding elevators with strangers makes me queasy. Riding an elevator alone reduces me to borderline panic.
In Logan, Utah, a city made up of buildings exclusively four stories and shorter, the elevator thing wasn’t ever a problem. In Chicago, a city of high rises, conquering my fear quickly became a necessity. After only a week here, I had already been in countless situations where I had no choice but to ride the elevator. I knew that my summer was going to be much less productive and much more tiring if I wasted large chunks of it walking up miles of stairs when I didn’t have to. Plus then I’d never make it to the observaiton deck at the Sears Tower.So I became determined. My love for Chicago would not be dampened by my hatred for elevators.
And I am proud to say that, in a mere month, my fear of elevators has all but vanished. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because I just barely found the stairs in the WBEZ building last Friday, so I have been forced to face my fear twice daily, and facing fears generally helps you get rid of them. Maybe because I am, in the words of the Book of Mormon heroes, fixed in my mind with a steadfast resolution. Maybe because I just realized there are some things that are much more worth the fear.
Like, for example, revolving doors.
As a child, revolving doors were a most wondrous thing, probably because there are only like three in the entire city of Salt Lake. When I was a kid, I could spin around a revolving door until the security guards dragged me out. Then, between the ages of ten and twenty, something inexplicably shifted, and I have ever since been gripped with a paralyzing fear of revolving doors.
Because, let’s face it, revolving doors are terrifying.
Anything could get caught in those things; purse, clothes, hair4. Worse – hands, legs, noses. I could have an arm ripped off, 127 Hours style, on my way into Wallgreens. And who the hell knows what you’re supposed to do then? And it gets worse – dart between the spinning jaws of death at the wrong moment and you could find yourself sliced in half like Darth Maul. Even worse are those jail ones in the subways that I’m certain could slice me like a meat grinder. To make things worse, they lock behind you, creating the very real possibility that you could get stuck. The image of me trapped in revolving doors in the subway keeps me up at night.
Revolving doors also create no end of awkward situations. How do you know when to get in? What do you do if someone is coming out as you’re coming in? What do you do if the person ahead of you gets something caught in the revolving doors, or gets their arm ripped off ala James Franco? Do you pick it up for them before you go through the doors yourself? What do you do when your roommate Nevada jumps in behind you and you have to ride the whole way around with her giggling behind you?
Chicago has an inexplicable love affair with the revolving door. They are on every. freaking. building. It really makes no sense to me. I cannot think of a single argument for revolving doors over normal ones. And yet, they are everywhere. There are also normal doors, oh sure, but when I beeline for those, I always discover they are locked. Why, Chicago? WHY!?
Are they more efficient? Cheaper? Do they look spiffier? Seriously, why do you torment me?! Why do you lock your normal doors? At least give me the option of keeping my extremities intact! This is borderline psychological torture!
In the end, conquering my fear of elevators has been a big deal, and I’m rather proud. Not great for my fitness, sure, because now I don’t take the stairs as much as I used to.
Now, on to the next enemy. My archenemy, as it were.
The revolving door. I shall vanquish thee yet.
- I googled the term for both fear of elevators and fear of revolving doors. Neither of them exist. The closest to elevators is “sursumdeorsumphobia,” which is a fear of up and down. When I googled fear of revolving doors, answers.com told me that’s most likely classified as an anxiety disorder. Awesome.
- I have since ridden this ride on multiple occasions. Though fun, it is the only theme park ride that has ever genuinely freaked me out beyond the point of the typical theme park adrenaline rush. For emphasis, please enjoy the look of absolute fear on my face in the following picture, taken on the Tower of Terror, especially compared to the rest of the car. For further amusement, observe the Noah Puckerman looking bemused on the other side of the shot.
- It’s not, as you might expect, the enclosed space thing that bothers me. It definitely has more to do with that little sliver of light you can see between the normal floor and the elevator floor.
- Observe, Heidi Klum: