An Idiots Guide to Riding the Escalator

by Linus

Assume for a second that you are a normal person…whatever ‘normal’ means.  Basically, you can walk, you can stand unassisted, and you can see.  If all those things apply to you, then please allow me to help you with a seemingly easy task that so many people can’t seem to do.

There are 4 components to riding an escalator, and below I have outlined a very easy guide to tackling each of those components…I hope you find this helpful.

Going up:
If I were to grant you any type of leeway, which I won’t, it would be going up.  Whenever you go against gravity, you are bound to run into people that struggle.  To put it in its simplest terms, think of it as a freeway…slow people on the right, fast people on the left.  If you do not want to walk up the escalator, so in other words you are content with being lazy, then please stand on the right side so you can allow those of us who are not lazy and like to walk up the escalator stairs (wipe that strange grin off your face, it’s not that uncommon to want to get 15-20 seconds of exercise at some place other than a gym) a free path to get to our destination 18 seconds before you do.

Going down:
There is absolutely no room for compromise here.  Going down an escalator is the easiest thing you can possibly do, how is it that so many people struggle?  My own personal preference is to also walk down the stairs, but if you would rather stand stationary…then please follow the above rule and stand to the right to allow us to pass.  Whatever you do, please do not stand in the middle with 1 hand holding the right hand rail, and 1 hand holding the left rail…this is not a ride at an amusement park so please do not treat it as such.

Getting on:
Is this your first time seeing stairs (or a walkway if you are in an airport) move?  No…then why are you looking at it like it is from Mars?  There is no reason to break your stride, or stop to try to time your entrance like you are jumping into a moving car…simply maintain the speed at which you were moving as you approached the escalator and place your foot on the appropriate step so as not to fall and make a complete idiot our of yourself.  If you do feel as though you have to let 4 or 5 steps pass until you feel comfortable, then please stand off to the side while you harness your chi.

Getting off:
Please begin to plan your exit strategy at the halfway point of the ride so you do not look like a college kid cramming for your 8.00am anatomy final at 7.56am the day of.  Take normal breaths, you can go 1 deep breath if it helps to put you in the zone, but either way the premise is the same.  As you begin to eye the landing, begin to envision which foot you are going to start with, play it out in your mind first.  As the landing approaches, lift that foot and prepare to execute the plan you recently envisioned.  As you place your foot down on the stationary landing, prepare for a bit of a jolt, but use the momentum that the escalator will give you to throw that other foot forward and be on your way.  Whatever you do, and I cannot stress this enough, please do not use the landing to look for that elusive item in your purse that has dogged you all morning, or to pull the handle up on your cute little suitcase with wheels.  As you can probably imagine, or perhaps you can’t, there is a small rush of people ready to execute their exit strategy and your dumb ass is now making that impossible.  In other words, you are the cause of a traffic jam…get out of the way!

If this seems like a lot to you, I apologize.  I did not mean to make this relatively simple task seem overwhelming.  If you approach an escalator and you begin to sweat, and you notice an increase in your pulse, I would advise you stand off to the side and watch as other people traverse the movable stairs.  Take notes if you must, but I would focus on 1 person, see how they get on and off, notice where they stand, and then when you feel comfortable, give it a try yourself.  I would recommend practicing at a mall…you will find plenty of idiots there so if you do something wrong you could go relatively unnoticed.  I would not recommend taking your virgin trip up and down at a place like Penn Station of JFK airport, you are seriously liable to get killed…there is no mercy there.

If you cannot abide by these simple rules, then please do all of us a favor…do not get off your couch…you are not built for life on the outside.