I’m Not Old…

16 03 2008

It’s true. I’m not old. Older than some, sure, but relatively young, all things considered. And yet, every now and then, I realize that I’m not a kid anymore. No, that’s not quite right. It’s more that, every now and then, I remember when I was unquestionably a kid, and I realize that I’ve changed, I’ve grown.

A couple of years ago, I had just finished seeing a movie and was walking through the outdoor mall to the parking garage to leave. Approaching the escalators, I made the decision to run down the up. I got about four or five steps down, when I heard, “Hey!” It was the mall security guard. “Turn around,” he said. I did, sheepishly, rode it back up, took the right one down. At the time, I really didn’t see the harm in what I was doing. No one else was coming up, so I wasn’t obstructing their ascent. I wasn’t planning on falling, and if I did, chances are I wouldn’t have sued the place, and if I did, would I have really won? I don’t think I would have.

Anyway, two days ago, I was at work, up on the third floor of the Bookstore, and I noticed a kid, maybe twelve or so, going up the up escalator. Nothin’ special, except he was looking behind him, at the down escalator, huge smile plastered to his face. Then I heard the ruckus. Getting louder. Soon, I saw another kid, maybe twelve or so, running up the down.

And I was angry.

You know better than that! What if you fell? You’re way too old to try something like that! There are people trying to go down, and you’re in their way! What are you, just trying to look cool in front of your friend?

So, when the two boys left, I kind of made eye contact with the kid, and kind of halfway glared at him. I made him feel just as sheepish as that security guard had made me feel. I started right then and there thinking about who I was, who I was turning into. I thought, Surely this was an isolated incident, me judging this kid so harshly. I must have just been tired, and I didn’t think about how he wasn’t really harming anyone.

But then, an hour or so later, two more kids came into the store, maybe thirteen or so. One of them started running down the up. And do you know what I did? “Hey! Turn around.” And, sheepishly, he took the up escalator up, and went down the down.

I had become the security guard.

What I realized was that I’m not a bad person; I’m just a person with a job. Part of my job is to make sure kids don’t go down the up or up the down. I don’t necessarily have to agree with it, and maybe it’s a kind of silly rule, only really intended to keep up appearances, but that has to be enough. It comes with growing up. You have to do things you would have hated other people doing to you when you were a kid. In that instant, I wondered if that security guard went home that night and thought, Man, I remember when I would have loved to have done something like go down the up. I guess I’ve turned into kind of a douche now. For what it’s worth, security guard, no hard feelings. And I hope, some day, those two kids will think back and feel the same.

And so I propose something to whoever might be reading this. One day every week, do something that would make the kid you used to be happy. Maybe you weren’t a very kid-like kid, so do something that would make the kid you always wanted to be happy. Maybe you are a kid, so do something that makes you happy. One day every week. Buy a coloring book and color a picture, play a video game, rent a movie, go to the park, play jumprope, stay in your pajamas all day, eat ice cream for breakfast, finger paint…

I’m not old, but I’m old enough to know that one day, maybe it’s already happened, maybe it will yet, every single one of us will realize we’ve become a grown-up. I’m also old enough to know that the number of years we’ve been alive is ALWAYS going to be a smaller number than the number of years that exist, and because of that, we’ll always be relatively young. Never forget that.

I’ve gotta go now. I’ve got a rousing game of Wii Tanks to play.

 — ldi

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