Fear and Shoulder Bags in the Sears Tower
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Some people are afraid of the dark. Some are afraid of bees or spiders or other creepy-crawly things. Some are afraid of clowns or vampires or the evil dust bunnies that live and multiply under their beds. Not me. I don’t mind the dark, and I’ve recently signed a treaty with the dust bunny colony under my bed. But, though it may seem strange and even a little bit irrational, I’m deathly afraid of revolving doors. I have been ever since I was a kid—and now, every time I approach one, I pause for a second, take a deep breath, and frantically search for possible alternatives while trying to convince myself that it’s really no big deal…

But like most strange, seemingly irrational fears, my revolving door fear isn’t completely unfounded. I have a perfectly rational—yet still somewhat stupid—reason.

It started when I was pretty young—probably twelve or so—and my mom, dad and I had taken the three-hour train ride from our home in small-town West Michigan right into the heart of Chicago. I’d never been to the Windy City before, and I can imagine that the three of us looked a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies as we walked through the city streets, wide-eyed and dressed in our best Midwestern suburban clothes.

I’d never seen anything so overwhelming in my entire life.

While we were in Chicago, we had to take in all the sights. That meant a walk down Michigan Avenue—and, of course, a trip to the top of the Sears Tower. We got our tickets, waited in line, and took the elevator all the way to the top so we could spend a few minutes looking out in all directions.

It was on the way out of the tower, however, that I made the idiotic move that forever caused me to fear revolving doors.

In order to leave the building, we had to exit through a big revolving door. I don’t think I’d ever seen one before my trip to Chicago, and I found them to be a bit scary for some reason. I think it had something to do with being trapped, alone, in a big glass box—and having to push on a heavy glass wall to get out. If I had dreamed it, I probably would have woken up screaming.

The three of us lined up to exit the building. Dad went through the door first. Mom followed by stepping into the section behind him. Theoretically, I was supposed to hop into the section behind Mom, and then we’d push our way out of the building and onto the street. But as Mom stepped in, I lost my nerve and jumped in behind her.

Under normal circumstances, that probably wouldn’t have caused a problem. I was, after all, a pretty small kid.

But I had The Bag.

Even at the tender age of twelve, I had learned that no woman should leave home without all of the necessities. So in preparation for the trip, I’d packed a huge teal and gray shoulder bag. In it, I probably had a few books to keep me occupied on the train, my camera, my makeup (and since it was the 80s at the time, that alone could have filled a bag), my purse, and a change of clothes—just in case I decided at some point that I didn’t like what I was wearing. Perhaps I’d brought my pet parakeet, Sammy, too. The bag was definitely big enough—and, that day, it was crammed with stuff.

So when I decided to jump into that revolving door with Mom, the bag decided that it would rather stay behind and wait for a less crowded section of the revolving door. Unfortunately, it was attached to my shoulder at the time.

Suddenly, the door came to a complete stop. Mom ran into the glass in front of her, while I bounced off the glass behind me. And across from us, trapped in the other side of the revolving door, was a spiffy businessman in a stylish black suit. He was glaring at me. Terrified by the evil look that the spiffy Chicago businessman was giving me, I quickly looked away from him and glanced behind me to see that my gigantic bag had gotten stuck in the door.

We were trapped in the Sears Tower’s revolving door, and it was all my fault. Me and my stupid bag.

I was so embarrassed that I almost started crying. I had no idea how we were going to get out. I pictured us still there in the middle of the night—Mom sound asleep on the ground, me hanging from the bag’s straps, and the spiffy businessman looking less than spiffy but still glaring at me.

Somehow, however, someone thought to push the door backwards—clockwise—to get the bag unstuck and us un-trapped. I’m guessing it was the spiffy businessman’s idea. Perhaps I wasn’t the only stupid tourist with a huge shoulder bag that he’d encountered. Maybe it was a regular (though still, obviously, annoying) occurrence for him. Whatever the case, once my bag was free and I was nervously clutching it to my underdeveloped chest, we were able to continue on our journey forward (or, I suppose, counter-clockwise), and in no time, we were out of the building. We were a little shaken (or at least I was), but we were free from that horrible door.

The incident was a brief one—and I’m sure no one remembers it but me (at least I hope not) but in those fleeting seconds on that fateful day long ago, my image of revolving doors was forever scarred.

And so was my pride.

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