Escalators Don’t Stop When You Get Off

My posts thus far have been more philosophical than directly practical (although I’d argue they are deeply practical in many respects). So I thought I’d throw in a few directly practical posts from time to time in case no one remembers to teach Vera some very important lessons that apparently have been overlooked in many households. The first one involves the all-important matter of escalator etiquette.

It’s on my mind because I took a business day trip to Tucson on Tuesday. Until I arrived at Denver International Airport for the two-hour flight south, it hadn’t occurred to me it was spring break in much of Colorado and the country. The airport was packed. The same condition existed when I returned from Tucson that evening, only things were worse due to flight delays caused by high winds and an earlier security incident at DIA (following the Brussels attack earlier in the day, people may have been on edge more than usual).

DIA is full of escalators. But nowhere is the escalating funnel of people more dense than the escalators to and from the underground tram that takes people to and from the main terminal to the gates. Suffice it to say those escalators were fully loaded.

Can you imagine what can happen when people step off the escalator and simply stop in their tracks? Common sense would tell you it isn’t good. Yet, as the saying goes, there is nothing common about common sense.

On two occasions, several people stepped off the escalator and stopped. I suppose they were in their bubble, oblivious to their surroundings. Fortunately, before the inevitable pile up could ensue, others, in an act of self-preservation, yelled at them to move and, indeed, pushed them forward, out of the way from what otherwise would have been a crash of significant magnitude with them likely at the bottom of the pile.

What I didn’t notice is how many of these oblivious people had their faces buried in their smart phones.

Meanwhile, vehicle accident rates, including fatality rates, are on the rise in America (which means, of course, all of us will be paying higher auto insurance premiums). Insurers blame distracted driving — i.e., texting, talking on mobile phones, etc. In the Colorado county in which we live, the accident and vehicular fatality rates are rising precipitously. Sadly, we’re even seeing quite a few hit-and-run accidents, where the perpetrators are fleeing the scene, leaving injured cyclists and pedestrians to die.

It seems like it should be obvious but apparently it isn’t. When you’re not watching the road, you’re more likely to run into someone or something. And when you step off a loaded escalator and stop, bad things are likely to ensue. Fortunately, the antidote to these dangers is the same: attention to one’s surroundings and appreciation of the risks your conduct poses to other people. Simple stuff. But important nonetheless.

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