In some sense, it comes as no surprise that Amherst students tend to be fast walkers. After all, what got us here other than our ability to strive forward, rushing fearlessly toward whatever sits on the horizon? Hustle culture can be shockingly literal.
But it can also be disruptive. Especially if you’re standing on the First Year Quad enjoying the first true day of a spring — balmy, sunny, a cool breeze — and gazing listlessly at the distant Holyoke Range, reflecting on all the beauty the natural world has to offer. Then, suddenly, the clock strikes 11:20, and like the world’s most frantic flash mob, a flood of students envelopes you, perhaps casting a snide head-shake as they pass: Almost all are moving at the speed of a neighborhood Honda — or the typical Queens resident — and you’re slowing them down.
If you’re a part of this mob, I have a modest request: Take a minute. Appreciate your surroundings. Commit the outline of the mountains to memory, preserve a picture of a rose blossom. Walk, don’t run (or speed-walk), to your next class.
We have a problem on campus. It’s spatial awareness. Too often I am stuck in Val behind a group of people ambling, directionless, while I wait behind them, plate-in-hand, desperately wishing that they would hear me saying “excuse me.” Other times, I am forced to awkwardly overtake a fellow pedestrian looking at their phone or listening to music, looking dazed.
I recognize that I likely have a bias toward fast walking thanks to my New York City upbringing, which is a stark contrast to Liam’s Austin, Texas roots. Although I tend to partake in the 11:20 mobs that Liam describes, I am also a fan of slowing down. When I do that, however, I make sure to make space for those who are less blessed with free time.
I would like to make the case for being aware of your surroundings, and understanding that although you may be happy on your leisurely stroll or talking to several of your friends on a narrow path, there may be other people who are deathly late to something struggling to get past you. Make some room, and let them pass. I’m all for taking time to enjoy life and meander, just as long as it’s not getting in the way of other people.