Entry and exit

My employer, which is dedicated to health and safety, and in a good way, has constructed its entrances and exits in such a way that minimal damage is caused to anyone who works in its environment. This is achieved by the simple expedient of making sure that you have to think three times before you go through any entrance or exit (the one of course becoming the other when you reverse the order of events). In fact you have to stand stock still while your brain recalculates where you are. The only thing that would be more healthy or more safe would be if a working Cerberus was installed at each doorway.

How, you may ask, do you get in? This is the same question in essence as how you get out, if you are talking about routes, but the answer to how you get out is subtly and distinctly different from the answer about how you get in. I ought also to add that I am talking about how to get in from a doorway nearest to the car-park I use. There are many other exits and entrances, and they will have their own etiquettes, their own practices, their own problem-solving procedures.

Are you ready? All right, firstly you need to know that I have a swipe card, with my photo on it, in case I lose it, which I have done, and I mean ‘lose it’ in the sense of ‘lose my card’, not in the more general sense of ‘complete brain failure’, although that can also happen when faced by the conundrums (condundra? Surely not) of the doors.

Very well. I approach the first doorway, the one which separates the exterior of the building from the interior. I press my swipe card (I keep it on a lanyard round my neck, although others keep theirs attached to their bags or to their person in a manner which hints at fashion accessory. I am not bold enough) against the black surface of the swipey-post (there is a correct word, but I don’t know it). At this point I must hesitate, largely because, for a fraction too long, nothing happens. After this hiatus, the doors spring apart towards me. For some reason this is counter-intuitive, to the say least. Still, having recovered, I mst make haste, or the doors will start to shut.

Now I turn right and am confronted by double doors. One of the says PUSH. Easy, eh? Well, I’ve read Alice in Wonderland, and I know how confusing signs can be, and besides, as I said, anything might happen here. So I hesitate in front of the doors for thirty seconds, recovering the mental data from my inner hard drive, double-checking. After a bit, I push the (right-hand) door. It opens of its own volition. I am through, and I now travel up two staircases to another set of double-doors. Recklessly, I push. Miraculously, they open under the weight of my hand.

At this point, further thought is required. To my right is a door, and beyond the door is the office I’m aiming at. The corridor is not light, not dark. What would you do? Go for the door? WRONG! There is a swipey-pad on the wall, to which I must incline my body (because the lanyard is not that long). Swipe. The door opens – towards me. I scuttle through, and obtain access to the office by using, by using – I have it – a key. Once in the office, the light comes on (not in the brain, on the ceiling, I mean) automatically. This is not permanent good news. It goes off after twenty minutes unless someone is working near the door, to save electricity, which means having to get up mid-typing to wave one’s arms around as if swatting skilled flies, and trip the light back on.

What was so hard about that, you ask? Okay, let’s go out. Lock the office. Head for the door. Will it open under pressure? No. Is there a swipe-pad? No. There’s a green button to press, which will open the door for you. You will then go through the doors, down the stairs, through the doors, press another green button and go out into the fresh air. This is the point at which you realise you left your swipe-card on your desk because the lanyard was chafing your neck. Never mind, just go back and …

See what I mean?

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