The first escalator went into use at the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island in NYC in 1896. That’s 120 years ago and yet I’ll bet you my Roy Rogers souvenir belt buckle there’s not an airport in America that doesn’t have at least one that is out of order as I write this. We can send men to the moon… And how many public transit riders are accustomed to taking the steps because of a broken escalator on their way to the office. It must be a kick to report to work sweating like American Pharaoh after a vigorous mile and three quarters jaunt. The older I get the more I depend on escalators; the meniscus tear in my left knee automatically senses when an escalator isn’t working. I get a warning signal in my brain like the emergency alert notices on the radio, “Stairs are not acceptable the maligned piece of cartilage will will scream at me. If you don’t want to have them cut on me then find an escalator that works.”
When I do take an escalator that’s working I’ve become increasing paranoid about my dismounts. The standard angle of incline or decline of escalators is 30-degrees. Landings coming down are far more difficult to negotiate and the older you get those landings usually lack significant style points. Bad dismounts are so uncool, like accidentally leaving your zipper unzipped, or getting caught picking your nose.
Airport walking belts have the same reliability quotient as escalators. How many times when you’ve had to get from Terminal A to Terminal X have you come across one that isn’t working and you have to break into a modified sprint to make your connection and because of it, you’re certain, your pulse has crept into the red zone and you’re sure a heart attack is imminent which causes you to picture yourself being carted to a first aid station in one of those obnoxious golf carts by a driver who is too busy honking his equally obnoxious horn to be able to hear your appeal to “Floor it, damn it!”
If you’ve got kids or grandkids approaching their college years my advice on how you can escape having to fork over tuition fees that exceed the GNP of Aruba, encourage them to become escalator repair persons. Schindler, one of the top manufacturers of escalators claims that their repairmen receive 50-hours of paid maintenance training. That’s clearly better bang for your buck than shelling out 30-to-40 thousand dollars a semester and still having to worry that the only thing your son or daughter is learning is how to binge drink.
So the next time you approach an escalator that has died in the line of duty try to hold back your anger and be thankful that airplanes don’t have the same reliability rating.
I have four mystery/thriller novels that I’ve written that are available at http://www.peteliebengood.com.