Excuse me, pardon me, sorry

Ellie White, Staff Writer

The Herd lazily meanders down the hallway, completely blocking a student’s way as she tries to pass by. Graphic by Zoe Bendoff

There’s an epidemic overtaking the hallways of Glenbrook North. No, I’m not talking about vaping, academic dishonesty or even AirPods.

  I’m talking about slow walkers.

More specifically, groups of four to five students who insist on walking in a horizontal line that stretches from wall to wall. This line moves at the same pace as a pack of geese deciding to take a stroll across Shermer Road during rush hour, blocking any passersby unfortunate enough to be stuck behind them.

I call them The Herd.

A typical encounter with The Herd usually goes something like this: I’m trying to walk to class when I see them. Dread immediately hits me as I know what will happen next.

After all, it’s not my first herd-rodeo.

I start to power-walk in an attempt to pass them, but that doesn’t work. The Herd continues to crawl, unfazed, oblivious to my attempt to break through their blockade. As I know from experience, once The Herd mindset is initiated, nothing short of a nuclear explosion will break it.

My next tactic? I attempt to communicate.

“Excuse me—” I stutter, trying to gain their attention, “Sorry, I just—”

The Herd ignores my plea, laughing at something I’m sure is hilarious and keeps on shuffling.

My encounter eventually ends when I decide that being polite is no longer an option, and I push through the unwavering mass to go to class. But because I dared to interrupt their sacred ritual of blocking all passage through the hall, I feel a barrage of angry stares hit my back as I speed away, trying to salvage what’s left of my dignity.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe my complaints about The Herd seem dismissive. After all, I’m not perfect when it comes to avoiding this mentality in my own life.

Here’s my personal Herd confession: I’ve done it before while hanging out with my friends, standing shoulder to shoulder, and walking at our own sweet leisurely pace. When we join The Herd, it’s like no one else in the world matters except us.

I’ve noticed that blocking the halls during passing periods isn’t the only time that we ignore the existence of other people in our lives. Think about when you’ve budged in the lunch line, passed someone on the road to get to the intersection first or not held open the door for others in favor of ducking inside to avoid the cold. Most people don’t even stop to notice there’s someone who gets cheated when we make those tiny, seemingly insignificant choices to push ourselves up in life.

It seems melodramatic, right? To argue this grand theory about human interaction based on how a few teenagers meander in the hallways. But simple meandering leads to so much more than that. The Herd and its mindless shuffling teaches people to value their own desires before they even recognize that others may have them. It ends up reflecting how the small actions that we take now can influence the ways we treat others in the future.

So please, next time you find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder with three or four of your buddies, look around you. Check if you’re blocking the hallway. It seems silly, but it helps. It helps those who are too scared to speak up to others, too polite to tell you to move or those whose moms will ground them if they get a tardy.