Diagonal Lines Are Your FriendsApril 6th, 2009
by Aaron Dietz
It’s 6:02pm. I’m leaving work. At the building where I work, I have two options:
1. Take the shortest path by walking through part of the driveway.
2. Walk a longer path by sticking to the sidewalk.
I take the short path. And I can’t help wondering about the people who take the longer path.
It’s as if they feel obligated to obey the whims of a landscape architect they’ve never met.
Perhaps a graphic will help explain the situation:
As you can see, if you’re going work at this building for more than a year or so, you could probably save a good ten minutes of your life just by taking the diagonal line (Path 2).
Plus, you don’t look like a conformist, like those that take Path 1.
I talked to a co-worker about it once, after she confessed that she felt weird using part of the circular driveway. She said that whenever she did, a car would drive through and have to wait for her to get out of the way.
This is a valid point, since it’s no fun to be considered rude by people who can run you over.
However, morality suggests that cars should bow to pedestrians, as they’re not the ones polluting the environment. Pedestrians, since they’re essentially saving the planet just by walking, should have the moral right of way.
And if you’re like me, you tend to just take the diagonal line unless there’s a car coming. Then you get out of the way, because moral ground doesn’t usually support you after you’re dead.
Of course, in many situations, people do see the diagonal line. And still others are horrified by it.
During my first year in college, I noticed that the students saw the diagonal line clearly, and the administrators sought to eliminate the diagonal line in a futile attempt at defending the integrity of the landscape architecture.
The following is a rough sketch of the main campus grounds.
The sidewalks were there to help people get to the buildings. But of course, the students were smart enough to know that they’d be wasting a lot of time if they actually used the sidewalk to cross the campus.
So, they walked the diagonal lines, and the result was a series of muddy paths worn into the grass within weeks.
The administration’s answer? Put up cheap temporary fencing around all the grassy areas. The temporary fencing was up for the rest of the semester.
What would I have done? Probably, I’d have paved the paths that were actually used, since that would look a whole lot better than a bunch of cheap, unrolled temporary fencing.
Even if you don’t pave new paths, a few diagonal dirt paths look a lot better than the fencing they felt forced to put up.
Of course, I’m no landscape architect. I just want to get where I’m going without feeling herded along an inconvenient path.
And maybe I just feel like I know where I want to go better than anyone else.