Friday, December 16, 2005

Escalator Etiquette

I know that most Americans hate nothing more than to hear how other people from other countries do anything better than Americans. Especially the French. It's true, many Europeans--especially the French--love nothing more than to sneer derisively at fat, boorish and philistine Americans, crude specimens of money-grubbing materialists whose highest manifestation of culture is the Rocky movies. Zey are zo inférieurs, non?

However, there is one thing above all others that Europeans--especially the French--do do much better than Americans. And that's riding escalators.

For some reason that mystifies, baffles, frustrates and, frequently, totally fucking infuriates me, Americans don't know how to ride escalators. They don't seem to know that simple Golden Rule of escalator use: If you're standing still, then stand to the right, keeping the left side of the stairs open to those who wish to walk. Simple, right? Common courtesy, basic logic. Promotes the flow of people, keeps everybody happy. OBVIOUS, RIGHT?

In the Parisian metro, in the British tube, in airports all over Europe, the rule is respected with impeccable cross-cultural regularity. It's the universal language of escalator etiquette. Everyone just gets it. Not in a rush? Stand right. Gotta go fast? Great--because the left-hand corridor just happens to be moving rapidly, a beautiful flow of like-minded bodies who don't have time to dick around.

Americans seem to have missed that day in school, because people around here just don't get it. How many mornings do I lunge out of the subway at Columbus Circle, with 2.45 minutes to get to work in order to achieve ideal arrival time and both rows of bodies on the escalator are standing still? Or, worse yet--yes, much worse--one little doltish body is standing stupidly in the left hand corridor, blocking aaaaaaalllll the traffic behind it, while a clear corridor of unimpeded stairs lie ahead of it, but it never occurs to the dolt simply to step aside into its universally designated row of unmoving people? Galling, enraging, mind-boggling, I tell you.

But I have a solution. I propose licensing escalator use. I'll create a Department of Moving Stairs (DMS), and those wishing to access the delight of moderity that is the escalator, will study a short manual on riding escalators, take a short quiz and then receive a license. easy.

Really easy, because there's only one sentence, one rule in the manual: Move To The Fucking Right.


Blogger Robin said...

and in typical R&R fashion, I totally agree with my distinguished co-author, and would suggest just a little addendum to her one-rule manifesto:

Move to the Fucking Right... Or Prepare to be Annihilated!

December 16, 2005 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

Be careful in Tokyo--where folks stand to the left and walk on the right.

Very disorienting.

December 16, 2005 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Houstonian said...

Enjoy the commentary.

Have you ladies thought about adding movie reviews to your repertoire?

December 17, 2005 9:15 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Interesting idea, Houstonian!

Hadn't thought of that before, but it's a great notion... the only snafu is that Renee tends to see subtitled arty films that no one else has ever heard of and I'm now becoming addicted to Netflix... but maybe I'll start re-reviewing old movies!

December 19, 2005 9:51 AM  
Blogger Renée said...

Yeah, I know this great Uzbek film noir, sort of a Yuri meets Yura story where the Causases mountains are a symbol of their sublimated sexual energy, and the story telling is all non-narrative, you know, no dialogue. Hot.

December 19, 2005 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Houstonian said...

Renee, you just but there's a recent film that comes close to what you describe: Three Iron. It actually works, too and received very favorable reviews. Perhaps you should be a screenwriter.

December 19, 2005 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Houstonian said...

"Just" should be "jest."

Hmmm. Was that my typo or the blogging software's?

December 19, 2005 4:07 PM  
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