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  • Paul Davidson

Unfunny Day (Or, How An Escalator Ruined My Future in the Olympics)

You knew it was coming, sooner or later. Today is one of those days. A day in which I just don’t feel the energy to be funny. So, with that warning, I would now like to talk about the time I almost lost my foot in a tragic escalator accident.

I was living in Long Island, New York. I was a child, no more than 10 years old if that. My sister and I were in a huge mall with our parents and saw a pair of escalators (one going up, one going down). We asked our parents with that Christmas-y excited voice…

Can we run up and down the escalators!?

At this point, my parents had probably figured they hadn’t lost their children yet to some freak accident, so we were probably indestructible. My parents waved us off, muttering something about being careful and we quickly ran down the escalator going up. We were stars. If there was some kind of Olympic event involving running down up-escalators, we would have been champions. Child prodigies. But alas, there was no league or training, and so we would have to settle for today’s successful run.

But alas (for a second time), it wasn’t completely successful. In order to return to the level our parents were on, we would have to run up the down escalator.

Now is the time I must explain how escalators are structured. There are the steps, jagged jaws of hell that slowly rise into steps and fall into flat panels. On either side of these rising and falling teeth-platforms is the slick metal sides that keep the teeth in check and in line. For those playing along at home, this is what an escalator looks like, minutes before something tragic happens…

Don’t ask me how or ask me why – but as we ran up the down escalator, my little Keds-encased sneaker (and foot) got wedged in the space between the moving steps and the wall of the escalator. It was trapped. And as we traveled up the down escalator, it began twisting my foot, ripping through my sneaker-top. My toes were minutes away from never seeing the 1980’s.

My toes would never feel the sand beneath their feet in California. My toes would not curl up in fear as they watched Alien. My toes would not hold jelly beans between each of them in homage to Ronald Reagan’s favorite food of all time. These toes, although they didn’t know it, would never see the best. decade. ever.

And then my sister screamed.

The rest was such a blur. My parents booking down the escalator and ripping my foot out from the wall. Laying on the mall floor with a crowd around me and an off-duty nurse telling me she was “an off duty nurse”. But my feet were safe, my toes intact, and my future Olympic career stunted.

I have not been able to ride an escalator since, without the use of a specially designed harness and backpack that allows me to “hover above” the steps themselves, never really ever setting foot on the metal menaces I refer to as the jaws, not of life, but death because of what happened to me that dark and disastrous day.

That day will live in infamy as one of the most unfunny days of my life.

Just like today.

In other news — I found out today I’m allergic to lobster, brussel sprouts and watermelon.

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