Escalator Etiquette

If you’ve read this title and gone “what is escalator etiquette?”, it not only means you have absolutely no idea how much you are pissing people off, but that your lack of knowhow makes this article compulsory reading.

It just gets on my nipples. Why, in the name of everything that ascends and descends automatically, can people not understand that one side is for standing, and one side is for walking? As I watched my partner do it the other day, I shook my disappointed brain from left to right, and then left to right again, looked up to my god and exasperated. I just don’t get it.

This is not something you learn late in life either. As kids we went on escalators. Hell, you’re probably thinking about that time you walked up an escalator going down, or that time you held onto the moving bannister and let it pull your arm away from your body until it almost dislocated – the good ol’ days. In fact, I hedge my bets that at least 100% of the modern world has travelled on an escalator as a kid, perhaps even enjoyed it. And I bet that when they inevitably stood on the wrong side, their mum, dad, or guardian well-versed in escalator law, dragged them back to the correct side and told them how vital it was to step in line and conform in the name of a more coherent society.

With that in mind, my beef is with those idiots who still, to this very day, fully grown adults who have many years of escalator usage on their CV, stand on the wrong side of the escalator. Not only can they see that everybody else is on the correct side, but that there are people very, very close behind them passive-aggressively telling them to fuck off out of the way without actually saying “fuck off out the way”.

When you mess up as a driver, like running a red light or someone over, you can be sent back to driving school to relearn how to drive because obviously you weren’t very good at it. We need something like this for dysfunctional escalator users. The training will be pretty simple, perhaps a Z-list celebrity, showcasing good and bad escalator practice, with a tidy, catchy slogan at the end reading something like, “Keep your eyes off your phone and look at your surroundings you thoughtless knob”. Alvin Stardust’s Green Cross Code ad is a good starting point.

I’ve been trying to think about why someone would continue to hold up the walking side of the escalator, knowing that this is not the system. I have boiled it down to these two reasons:

  1. They have amnesia and are blind at the same time – they must not remember, genuinely remember, all those times in their life they have been told to stand on the correct side. But at the same time, not notice people around them doing it the right way, or see the signs at some escalators as a reminder of the process. A blind amnesiac is the only answer.
  2. They don’t care – this one is going to be more common than the above answer. These homewreckers really must believe that the world belongs to them and that everyone else can go screw themselves as they hold up the line. They simply don’t give a shit.

Having the audacity to ruin a very simple, agreeable system that has proven to work comes with a level of unparalleled arrogance. So much so, that it’s actually quite impressive. They are at a point in their lives where they see something working well for society and are willing to casually sabotage both publicly and with a shrug.

There’s nothing to be done about these people, they are untouchable. Apathy is a great defence mechanism. They can be moaned and groaned at as you walk past them, and they hear it, of course they do. But will it make them change? Not a chance. It’s people like this who want to watch the world burn one escalator trip at a time.

The war rages on.

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