I went to see science rockstar Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Auditorium Theater last night with some friends. And it was AWESOME! Yeah, you’re jealous. Allow me to bask in your jealousy for a moment… Ok, done. Our seats were less than stellar. (Ha! See what I did there? I’m funny.) We were on the sixth floor in the third from last row. There was no elevator. Past the fourth floor, the theater can only be described as purposely death-trapish. The lighting is dim. The stairs are black. The railings are the same color black and groin level. And when you get to the seats, the stairs are small, steep, and tilted forward towards the abyss. The rows are cramped and the seats are tiny. There was just enough room to fit my smaller than average frame and my back is still hurting from the experience.
There was an older gentleman who sat behind me. He was overweight, had to walk with a cane, and was near death from exhaustion and likely fear by the time he got to his seat. The poor guy ended up having to sit on the stairs because the seat was so uncomfortable for him. He was far from the only one having issues. If there was an actual emergency in that theater, I do not know how much of my level would make it out alive. If one of those bigger guys goes down, which they invariably would, they’d block the exit for everyone in that section and it would be almost impossible for them to get back up given the conditions.
It’s because of places like the Auditorium Theater that we have building codes. Governmental regulations aren’t made in a vacuum. They are usually preceded by a tragedy, but experience and forethought have given us the ability to predict problems and regulate against them before they happen. Yes, I’m sure some regulations are stupid and/or out of date, but most are not. They are there to protect us whether you can understand them or not. So the next time you want to complain about governmental overregulation, take a trip to the sixth floor of the Auditorium Theater and get back to me.