Monday, July 02, 2012


I have discovered a new and dangerous disease that seems to be sweeping through the citizens of London. Recently dubbed (in the past thirty seconds) Dysjanuasis, it is an astonishing disability to handle doorways.

I'm not suggesting British people are too fat to fit through doorways, or incapable of pushing, pulling, or turning knobs upon them, but rather they can't pass through them effectively. For many sufferers this extends to stairways, tunnels, bus stops, and sidewalks, but the effect is similar across all: you get to, just through, or just in front of the doorway and stop.

Why do you stop? Sometimes it is to rummage for a phone, or to tie your shoe. Other times it is simply to enjoy the fresh air, or curse the rain. Most often you have no reason whatsoever, and simply stand there, looking like a damp sock. Either way, you stop directly in the path of other people--sometimes hundreds of people--who need to pass through the door, or mount or descend the stairs, or get off the train, or on the bus, or move quickly down the platform or through the tunnel. More importantly, you stop directly in the path of people who are already moving, sometimes quite quickly, meaning they have to skid to a halt lest they knock you into the street, or down the stairs, or into the (often sizeable) gap between the platform and the train.

Among children, Dysjanuasis expresses itself through such symptoms as: temper tantrums, wiggling, wandering, glassy-eyed stupidity and/or fist-sucking confusion. Among adults, however, Dysjanuasis is asymptomatic with the exception of the doorway failure itself. Sufferers respond poorly to conventional treatments, such as being asked to move (side effects include: astonishment, hurt feelings, rude retorts, and in exceptional circumstances, starting fistfights), being shoved out of the way (side-effects: huffing, shouting, how-dare-you-ing, tutting, and simply failing to move out of the way despite the shove), being slammed headlong into (side effects: belligerence, wild accusations, further failure to move, and the impressively blind-minded "look where you're going, asshole"), and no treatment appears to have any lasting effect.

Therapies are usually begun in childhood but effectiveness of all approaches requires further study. While some parents adhere to the principle that instruction ultimately leads to independence ("move out of the way sweetie so the nice lady can get past you." "okay mommy" Life Lesson Learned!) others contend that regular instruction leads to a reliance upon further instruction ("Ow! Why did that lady trip over me?" "Maybe next time you'll get off the escalator at the appropriate time, schnookums.") so instruction should come through experience of consequences. Either way, neither approach has resulted in any measurable improvement in the condition, and indeed some sufferers may develop the condition spontaneously, or after years of therapy.

Will there ever be a cure? Is it deliberate? Is it a symptom of a larger condition? Am I ready to punch someone next time I get smushed in the train doors because I can't get off thanks to some slack-jawed idiot in flip flops with a handbag the size of Rhode Island, or trip over the crossed ankles of a suit nattering into his phone halfway down the stairs to the Tube? Science may never know.


Veronica Tomorrow said...

It seems to be spreading across the pond. Particularly at my train stop where people refuse to exit the station because it's raining or hot out and somehow the best way to deal with this is to clog the passage out until the weather goes away.

Kristen said...

I think the city here could help--we already have the "stand to the right" placards on the escalators--surely it can't be a huge burden to make up "keep moving after exit" signs, if only as a gesture of sympathy to frustrated pedestrians. (These could be followed by "come on, faster", "if it screams, pick it up", and "no more than 3 children, dogs, or combination thereof per 1 adult" decals on trains and corridor walls.)