See Ya Later, Escalator


Despite it being one of the few free forms of transportation available (along with the elevator and your legs), the escalator is not my preferred way of getting around. If you work downtown, like I did during the Paleolithic age, you can’t avoid them. They are really just stairs in a rush, similar to all the people rushing to their life’s passion, I mean, their…j-o-b.

There’s too much to think about when I get on an escalator, and it begins with getting on. Oh God, which foot do I lead with? I use the right foot. It’s my dominant foot, due to a recessive foot gene, I think. Whenever I need to kick someone in the nuts and get away in a hurry, that’s the foot I go with. Then I have to time my steps delicately so I land fully on the centre of a stair…and the damn thing’s moving. I call it the escalator shuffle. I do little baby steps as I approach the escalator so the right foot lands properly. You can take an escalator dance course at most dance schools these days. Escalator Shuffle, Ballroom Escalator, Escalator Tap. I took Ballet Escalator. We did a unique production of Swan Lake, called Swan Escalator. Worth the investment.

Has your first step ever been on the crack between two stairs? Then you have to either quickly adjust your foot and push the person in front of you, or stay put and suffer escalator ankle. Careful, that pushed person could be your boss. Maybe it’s your yearly review today. I hope your ankle heals quickly.

Am I dating myself with the concept of the yearly review? I think they’ve changed since I worked corporate. “Congratulations, we’re not raising your salary, but we are raising our expectations of you.”

I can’t think of another form of transportation that requires so much planning before getting on. Perhaps an airplane, which calls for a bit of forethought: a few swallows of scotch and some Ambien.

Once I get on the escalator, there is etiquette to follow – called escalaquette. There are two lanes of traffic. The bumper-to-bumper lane and the passing lane. In my opinion, there should be a third lane – the HOV lane, for people who pile onto each other and take up less room.

If you are caught standing still in the passing lane, you should be hauled to escalator court, where a fake judge in a bathrobe sentences you to walk up the down escalator in front of the entire downtown population for a whole business day. Sure, up the down escalator was fun when you were a kid, but try it in a Boss suit, holding a briefcase, four coffees, 20 Timbits, and your shattered self-esteem. Sometimes people in the passing lane are in such a hurry, I feel I need a little rear view mirror to check for an opening, and maybe some turn signals on my butt cheeks.

Speaking of butt cheeks, I always have trouble gauging the proper distance from the person, or ass, in front of me. I don’t want to get too cozy, but the further away I am, the more my sight level matches…their ass. Sometimes I would kiss the ass in front of me, in preparation for more of the same at work all day. Perhaps we need toll escalators, a la 407, to cut down on the crowds.

Do you ever struggle with the stair/escalator choice? I need exercise, but my “body type” is lazy. Sometimes I wish escalators had more than one entrance on them. For those times when I’m walking up 300 stairs and halfway I realize, “Geez, I’m really tired and sweaty. What a mistake this was.” Meanwhile, people hum smoothly by me, waving, smiling, not sweating. It would be nice if I could hop on anywhere along the ride. I have trouble committing to the stair or the escalator. “I’d like to get some exercise, but my legs are exhausted from sitting all day. I guess it’s the escalator. I’ll walk in my sleep instead.”

Did you see Rain Man? Remember the scene where Cruise and Hoffman are riding down an escalator in Vegas wearing identical suits? That was the best acting performed on an escalator, in my opinion, and should be an Oscars category. I believe Cruise did his own stunts in that scene.

What about the Christmastime escalator? I’m the annoying person with 20 bags of presents. I can’t let go of the handles or I’ll never find them again. My presents will become Swiss cheese at the top. I need an escalator Sherpa.

Escalator History: Did you know the inventor of the stairs tried to murder the inventor of the escalator, because it was a threat to his invention? Entirely not true, but it should be. Why hasn’t the escalator replaced the stairs? The car has pretty much replaced the horse as a mode of transport. And what about that world of The Jetsons? Why hasn’t that come true?

I guess it seems like I hate escalators, but they aren’t all bad. They are electric, and even before Tesla was around. Thankfully for the planet, the gas-powered escalator never caught on.

You know what I really hate? When I see that yellow sandwich board – Escalator Under Repair. I wanna scream! It might even escalate to a fight.

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