Monday, 10 April 2006

Excuse me are you German?

Life is filled with social agreements that we enter into simply by being present.
  • I/we will stand on the platform while waiting for the train and I/you will not push you/me in front of it as it arrives.
  • A coat laid on an adjacent set indicates the seat is taken.
  • I/you will not attempt to start a conversation with you/me for the duration of the elevator’s trip.
My case in point is the escalators that I ride in and out of the train station during the course of my daily commute. The convention is that standers stand on the left while walkers walk on the right. Every now and then someone will take a couple of steps up the right-hand side and then stop. High school kids chatting to their friends, lovers holding hands, confused elderly tourists; there’s no way to tell who’s going to be a stander so everyday it’s a lottery no matter how carefully I choose which of the three escalators to ride. I try to survey the people ahead of me but every time I think that I’m finally tuned in the rhythm of the herd, an idiot I didn’t spot will stop halfway up the flight and decide that now is the right time to tie his shoelace.

I consider myself fairly patient but this is one of the things that really brines my pickle. It’s not that the dufus is slowing me down (the way things currently stand I really don’t want to get to work any faster than I have to) but the lack of awareness offends me. What gives them the right to break the unspoken contract? All I’m asking it that my short trips up and down the moving
stairway are unimpeded and irritation free. Is that too much to ask?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Its an unspoken city person rule - the whole left side right side escalator thing. I was completely oblivious till my girlfriend told me while I was in the states. How many disgruntled yuppies waited behind me in the years proceeding?

George, I think you should take it upon yourself, as a kind of holy crusade. Instead of tapping your foot, accost the individuals, shout it from the base of the escalator like some religious nutter. "Stand to the left, walkers on the right!"

Or you could always take the stairs...

Anonymous said...

That is true. the stairs are looking like a good option for you. a bit of exercise and no need for foot tapping, we wouldn't want you stubbing your toe now would we.....