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.