Big Girl Pants

I’ve never liked escalators.

When I was a child, I was terrified of them. I’d grasp for a hand or stand there holding up traffic. I was always worried that I’d miss the first step and somehow slide into the steel folding blocks of decent. There they would crunch me up like yesterday’s garbage. It was pretty dramatic when I was little.

There’s something so…mechanical and cold about escalators, which I suppose is strange because they’re usually gliding along to department store music or the buzz of travelers. Going up doesn’t bother me as much, although I still do a little shuffle on the metal platform before I carefully choose my step.

Up or down, I’m always conscious when I’m on an escalator, prepared for something very out-of-my-control-jaws-of-hell to happen. I’m still a child with a crazy imagination and monsters are very real while I’m cursing along with other perfectly calm passengers.

I could walk to the elevator or find that staircase tucked behind some inconspicuous door, but I don’t.

I’ve been on hundreds of escalators so far in my life, maybe thousands. I get on and ride them because I have to, because people are watching and while the fear could be justified when I was a child, grown-ups aren’t supposed to be afraid of escalators.

What are we allowed to be afraid of once we pass into being an adult?

We can’t really clutch our blankets and cry on about the boogieman or tell our boss or co-worker that we are afraid to get up in front of the rest of the conference room. Children look to us on rollercoasters and in dark movie theaters. Silly make-believe fears, aren’t very adult.

So, what is left? Death, illness, loss of a loved one, that the cafe we are sitting at will explode as part of some nut-job’s message? Those are grown-up worries.

I was on an airplane once and the man across the aisle from me was dressed in a lovely suit, probably in his mid-forties, and sweating bullets. He kept looking up, trying for a full breath, and wiping his forehead with a  handkerchief.

I could tell he was struggling and once he reached for the little white bag in the seat pocket, I understood. I looked away, felt a bit embarrassed for him because by the time we took off he was really losing it.

I was in my twenties waiting for the dawn of wisdom that was supposed to come with age. That wisdom has yet to arrive, but on that day I sat in fascination.

Here was a grown man, whom I imagined was very successful and together when not on an airplane, super scared to fly. His fear was so paralyzing that he couldn’t be brave. He couldn’t adult in front of the rest of the passengers because the little kid in him was probably screaming, “We are going go down!! Forget this stupid meeting, we need to get off this plane!”

He did get off the plane, landed safely, sans his breakfast which was left in the little white bag, but safely. I’m sure he’s flown since, tried to keep it together, because he has to, he’s a grown man, but I’ll bet the little boy still travels with him.

Next time I’m on an escalator, I think I’ll look around and see how many of us, do the shuffle or are clutching that rubber glidey handle.

My thoughts from the laundry room. No curfew.

adulthood fears keeping it all together kids learning life struggle thoughts

19 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I too have an issue with escalators. Up, down, it doesn’t really matter. I always have a hard time getting my foot on the first moving step. I hold on for dear life so I won’t fall. And then… there’s my crazy teen-aged son doing circus tricks and crazy acrobatics that sends me into psycho-mom mode. It’s so hard to explain what it is about moving stairs that freaks me out. Maybe it was that Rescue 911 episode I saw as a kid that did it?

  2. Revolving doors were OK for me until I have to use a power wheel chair. The time when it stopped for exit seemed never be enough for me to get out. Ever since that time I was trapped inside , spinning around and around and around. Until someone pushed the “stop” button.
    I’m not afraid of revolving door, but they are exclude from the rest of my life!

  3. I used to share your fear of escalators! I would wrench my hand from my mother’s at the last moment, too terrified to step onto it. She’d have to go down, around and back up to get me. It was all very funny, now that I look back. Not at the time:). I’m on a quest for love vs. fear. Tired of fear. Think I’m done with her.

  4. me tooooo! Always hated escalators. I faffed about so much on one when I was five that I fell and scraped all the skin off my leg. I was already a bit funny with them, but after that I was even worse. I’m not too bad now, but if I feel like the people behind me are moving too fast, sometimes I just have to skip out and go behind them. Can’t be rushed onto a down escalator!

    • So true. I can not be rushed, especially if I’m at an airport and I need to get my wheely bag on the escalator too. Oh, I’m starting to sweat just thinking about that. Hahahaha. I have not fallen (yet), but I always step aside if I think someone is rushing. I need to concentrate. 🙂

  5. My sister fell once and cut up her leg, I blame the flip flops she was wearing. I no longer own any and I’m so careful when I get on escalators. Thanks for the post!

    • Ouch, again a nightmare she lived through. See it happens, the fears are real. 🙂

      I honestly don’t think I could do flip flops on the escalator, they’re too fun. Fun and escalators do not go together.

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  6. I also do the shuffle and one time my nightmare came true. My sweater caught on a screw on the side of the escalator and I was having to walk backward as fast as I could until I pulled it loose. Now it is a funny story I tell but back then, I didn’t even have time to wonder what if I can’t keep going, I just kept dealing with the situation in the only way I could think of. Its often embarrassing when I keep waiting for the next step to make sure I have good footing and then I feel like I am going to fall. Never talked about the fear but I have a feeling that there are many of us. I admire that you “buck it up” in fearful situations but I think talking about it helps take the power from the fear. Just sayin…

    • And there it is . . . my nightmare too. I didn’t even cover the clothes getting caught business. I can’t even go there.
      It’s wonderful to know that we are shuffling together. Thanks for reading and relating, Patricia!

  7. I’m not afraid of dogs,
    not afraid of the dark,
    but I’m petrified
    when dogs bark at me
    in the howling night,
    their yellow eyes aglow
    and little silver dogtags
    tinkling the last song
    I’ll probably ever hear.

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