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February 21, 2014

Uncommon courtesy

The kinder side of campus.

I have a lot of reasons to hate using crutches. One, it absolutely destroys your arms, armpits, wrists, and your perspiration control. Two, it literally takes you 20 minutes to get from one end of the quad to the other. And three, if it’s wintertime in Chicago, you’ll most likely not be able to use your death contraptions at all, leaving you with two choices: You can either be stranded in your dorm, which sounds awesome (’cause Netflix), but comes with the risk of hurting your grades (mandatory attendance classes, ew); or you can painfully hobble to class with an ankle the size of John Travolta’s head.

Though I do have a couple reasons I loved using crutches. One, I’m pretty sure I have an almost-six-pack from all of the required balancing, and two, I saw a genuinely thoughtful and kind side of the UChicago community.

As somebody who is often cynical and prides herself on perfected eye-rolls and resting bitch-face, this realization does not come easily. I, for more than a year and a half, have lumped UChicago students into a category labeled “Those who do not know how to hold open doors, turn off lights, wait in line, say please or thank you, etc.” I, for more than a year and a half, have generalized my peers as rude, inconsiderate, and opposite-of-southern-ladies/gentlemen. I, for more than a year and half, have been wrong—kind of.

During my two-week crusade of ankle-induced appreciation, I felt more loved than I had since elementary school Valentine’s Days. Friends—even randos—would approach me on campus to ask about what had happened and if I needed anything. You know those Greenpeace people who stand by the Reg and accost you if you’re carrying around a plastic water bottle? Yeah, I usually hate them too, but one of the guys literally asked me if I wanted a back massage. I’m pretty sure it was because I had a reusable water bottle in my backpack, and he was probably trying to coerce me into filling out his survey, but still.

Also, in a shocking turn of events, people held doors open for me! Instead of pulling the door open half an inch and slithering inside, people in front of me actually kept the door open. They also started walking on the correct side of the sidewalks! Amazingly, all it takes is a pair of crutches to get first-years to stop walking nine-abreast on those tiny pathways on the quad. They actually got into a single-file line! I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I felt like Moses—my crutches, lovingly nicknamed Jesus and Jesus (one is pronounced the Spanish way, obviously), could part the seas of student traffic, leading them to salvation, a.k.a. proper sidewalk etiquette.

Oh, and let’s not forget all of the blessed souls who helped me carry my plates of food, assisted me to my seat in class, and offered me priority standing in the elevators. I imagine this is what first-class pampering feels like, and as the (slightly altered) phrase goes, “Once you go once percent, you never go back.”

But, alas, I am off of my crutches, and my ankle has returned to a normal Kate Mara size (can we PLEASE talk about that episode of House of Cards, OH MY GOD?!?). As much as I’d like to believe that all of the thoughtfulness that was showered upon me was because people are great and I’m that perfect combination of approachable and mysteriously cute, it appears that it was just Jesus and Jesus. I have returned to the days of people letting doors close in my face, running over me on sidewalks, and not doing everything I tell them to do.

On the bright side, the bruises on my armpits are fading, and I can finally put on deodorant again.

Jenny Lee is a second-year in the College majoring in political science and psychology.

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