The pretty girl stands at the foot of the stairs, chatting casually and cheerily within her cluster of friends.
She talks about her latest boyfriend and her soccer team’s most recent win; she mentions her new dog-walking job and her poor test average in English class. The group of classmates talk openly for several minutes before the third period warning bell interrupts the conversation.
Meanwhile, an endless throng of students shuffle down the stairs, into the lobby and awkwardly around the human obstacle before filing off in a seemingly infinite number of directions. They bump, edge past and brush by each other, apologies non-compulsory, in the slow-motion rush to the next period.
“Science was so boring today,” whines the pretty girl as 173 more people squeeze around her and into the main lobby. Calling her oblivious to the surrounding self-caused commotion would be an understatement.
But she’s not alone in her disregard. Across the lobby, a circle of football player-sized jocks shove through the crowd with guilty smirks. An entourage of freshmen cliques jam up a hallway entrance like concrete. A trio of wannabe gangsters occupy the library doorway.
Around them, the mob of flesh, bones and backpacks continues to funnel into the lobby and, three minutes and seven steps later, finally into one of many branching corridors.
The corner where the cafeteria, media center, main lobby and computer lab hallway converge is, indeed, never free of congestion and subsequent exasperation. The Fire Marshall definitely wouldn’t approve.
Concealed within the ocean of humanity, however, is an intriguing microcosm of our school.
It’s easy to stereotype the hundreds and hundreds of teenagers passing through the crossroads into just a few categories — the insecure, who rush through quickly in a failed attempt to go unnoticed; the popular, who saunter confidently with little regard to others in their way; and the in-between, who try to look occupied on their phone or engrossed in a fascinating conversation with their one nearby friend.
Students of all races, of all grades, of all social statuses, of all levels of intelligence, even, are filtered through the lobby like a complex assembly line.
Suddenly, the chaotic coordination of the third period class change is broken; somebody tripped on the stairs and stumbled into a certain girl at the bottom. “Hey, watch where you’re going,” she said. “You need to get out of the way.”