Let me ask you a question.
If I told you I came up with a brand new invention that was like stairs, but they moved, and all you had to do was get on them and it would transport you to the upper level of any building… But the stairs were made out of sharp knife blades, would you tell me that was a good idea or a bad idea?
Right. So why then am I the only person to vilify escalators as the most dangerous transportation device on the face of the Earth?
It’s no secret that I once had a horrific run-in with an escalator as a child — a time when my foot was almost chopped off in the process. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case — but I find it extremely ironic that, next to cans of food, the escalator is one of the few pieces of technology that has yet to be improved.
Think about it — from the time escalators were invented, have we seen any kind of safety improvements? How often do you get to the top of an escalator and see keys jammed in the death jaws? How often have you heard stories of people getting their feet caught in the steps? How many children are more afraid of escalator steps than the monsters underneath the bed?
Isn’t it about time that someone did something about escalators?
How many times have you just about gotten your arm stuck in an elevator door as it was closing? How many times has the elevator door actually stopped, then made a weird high-pitched ringing sound? How many times have you tried to stick your head in the microwave and realized that the safety feature causes the microwave to shut off right before you attempt to cook your skull? How many times have you tried to electrocute yourself and that dang GFI reset button jumps into effect and saves you from yourself?
If you answered more than once to any of the above questions, then this next paragraph should make a lot of sense.
Why is it that there are no real safety measures put in place for an escalator? Why is it that you can go ahead and get multiple body parts cut off if you get anywhere near to where the deathly sharpened step meets the slick, slippery metallic wall? Why is it that if you were to pry a stair away from the mechanism you would see nothing but air? There’s like a huge drop underneath those stairs — nothing to save you if you happened to (while you were riding one) use a bunch of tools to take off a stair then jump into the mechanism below.
I think about these things, I guess. Often.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a technology in a Mall or Business Park that is as dangerous, as fear-inducing and as potentially life-threatening as the escalator. I think you’d also be hard pressed to come up with a reason why such a technology has not been improved over the years. And so, I would like to offer up just a few suggestions to the elevator inventors who frequent WFME. They include:
Harnesses for all escalator riders — at the first sign of getting your foot caught and chopped off by the sharp stairs, you will be whisked up into the air as if a parachute just opened.
Escalator rider chaperones, who will assist you in placing that first foot on a good place on a good stair (i.e., they’ll make sure both feet are placed centrally, away from the sides or the edges of the stair).
Escalator encouragers who will work in tandem with the chaperones and will give you calming, supportive words (i.e., “Halfway there, just hang in there buddy boy”) as you make your way to the top.
Canine companions — have a favorite dog? They’ll make sure a cute little friend is waiting at the top for two reasons: to encourage you to get to the top and to retrieve you like a lost hiker in the Andes, if you go down or collapse in the process.
Velcro stairs and shoes — remember the David Letterman velcro suit and wall? Same thing. Here, escalator passengers will be given special velcro booties that will stick right to the velcro stairs. At the top, there will be huge circus body builder performers who will rip you off the stairs (by your shoulders) before your velcro feet get sucked into the machinery. Less dangerous than what we’ve got today, so I think this is a good idea.
Stairs. Get rid of the escalators. Just put in stairs.
I hope that these simple and easy to implement ideas are read by those in power at the escalator companies. I suspect they will, as they always have, read them and disregard them due to the fact that there is no current movement striving to improve the technology of escalator safety in this country.
And on that note, I’d like to end this piece with a haiku about escalators. Please note, I do not write haiku in the traditional fashion (i.e., 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). I like to mix it up a little:
Those escalators, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!
Watch out, your feet might get caught, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!
Ouch! That’s gotta hurt! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!