Push the Button

This post is just going to be special for me…maybe. Because the way I even pronounce the title of this post when I speak it is, apparently, unique. I pronounce it like butt-en instead of but-ten, which may or may not be the more standard way to say that word. So many people have noticed this particular way that I say this word.

This post isn’t really about the way I pronounce this word, though. There were two incidents on Friday that I thought was very interesting-for me and the people involved. Both of these incidents occurred within one minute of each other. I walked by an elevator from a parking structure, where multiple people were waiting for an elevator to arrive. However, the button wasn’t depressed; it would have been lit up if it someone had pushed it, which is how most elevators operate. I just walked by it.

A bigger scenario was awaiting not even 30 seconds later. There is an intersection in the middle of a main street the runs through our campus. This intersection serves only to allow people to cross the street-it’s just one big crosswalk, and there is a traffic signal just for the crosswalk. Well, I’ve seen this happen before, but not on this scale; where many people are waiting to cross, but there was a huge crowd of people waiting. What I had deduced to have happened was that nobody really pushed the button to cross. Usually what people do is that realize that one person pushes the button when they arrived at the intersection, and every subsequent person that arrives to the intersection awaiting to cross makes the false assumption that somebody else has pushed the button to cross. Sometimes, what has happened is that the person who has presumably pushed the button (and he himself thought he pushed the button) only lightly pushed the button; not enough, sometimes, to trigger the signal.

In both scenarios I thought about saying something-actually-for the second scenario, I thought about just walking up and pushing the button myself, and let the light change for the poor people waiting. I don’t know why I didn’t. Perhaps what was interesting was that to me these situations were so obvious, but to every person waiting and thinking, “Gosh, when is this light going to change”, nobody had thought of pushing the button. Hey, for all I know, I just misinterpreted the situation and somebody really pushed the button and they all were really still waiting for that signal to change.

I guess I can’t know for sure in either situation-perhaps that first button was depressed for the elevator and the light itself that would indicate it has been pushed was broken. Perhaps it was this slight uncertainty that allowed me to hesitate. I chose to hesitate, but I had done so on the basis of preusmptions that I myself had made about the situations with which I was not heavily involved. Perhaps there was something I overlooked in both situations. In fact, I may have not had the right to go into that situation. Would people have thanked me (not that I would care) if I had stepped into their situation even if they didn’t want me to? Maybe not at first. It would have looked weird-I literally would have pushed that button and just walked away.

So now I wonder. And I will keep wondering if anything I did would have made a difference.