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Ouch: This Freshman Stepped on the Compass and Then a Grand Piano Fell on Him


Photo by David Maiolo / CC A-SA 3.0

At this point, most freshmen have taken their first midterm. Not Benji Zucker, College freshman from Tallahassee, FL. Zucker, whose class schedule is far easier than most of his classmates, has blithely floated through college life by turning in the occasional reading response and pretending to do his reading. Then, he stepped on the Compass.

There is a common superstition that a freshman who has not yet taken their first midterm will fail it if they step on the Compass, at the intersection of 37th and Locust Streets. Many have decried the urban legend as an invention by male upperclassmen to help them spot freshman girls. Whether you believe the myth or not, it'll be hard to believe what happened to Zucker next.

According to eyewitnesses, Zucker was crushed by an 1,100 pound Steinway & Sons grand piano just half a second after his foot touched the center of the Compass. Passersby were stunned by the earth-shaking impact of the piano, and baffled by its origin.

"I've never seen anything like it," Abby Tomms (W '19) told UTB, still shocked by the catastrophe that unfolded right before her eyes. "There no crane nearby, nothing like that. This kid just stepped on the Compass and WHAM, grand piano, out of nowhere. Then, like, two seconds later a piano bench fell on him, too. It just seemed excessive, adding insult to injury. The Compass might be cursed in a new way now."

Zucker is currently in the hospital, and is in stable condition. But doctors are still struggling to treat Zucker's mouth, which is now full of piano keys instead of teeth so that when he smiles, some of his teeth are white and some of them are smaller and black (the sharp and flat keys). 

Penn students are avoiding the Compass now more than ever, and a series of cones and fencing has been set up to block oblivious students from setting foot on the site. 

"No one is sure whether or not the Compass is really cursed," a member of the Division of Public Safety told us, "but no one wants to find out. Grand pianos weigh, like, a thousand pounds."

While it appears that Zucker will make a full recovery, only time will tell whether he fails his first midterm.