an open letter to elderly escalator users

Dear senior citizens and the would-bes,

I hope all is well in the golden twilight of your years. No doubt life for you hasn’t changed much in these few years but I would like to bring to your attention to that age-old invention marvel called The Lift. In case you still think that this box magically transforms people to someone else with each closing and opening of the doors, this is in reality an useful cable and pulley mechanism that transports people to various floors of a building.

I’m ashamed to tell you but one of my pet peeves is seeing hesitation before, during and after an escalator ride. Yes, for that few seconds that you decide whether or not you can catch up to the speed of a moving escalator, you have effectively hold up the world behind you. For a brief moment of relief the world felt when you finally latched on to one of the gigantic step, you smashed that right up when you paused in the middle of the step like a robot being shut down. Similarly in your trance, in the most literal sense of the word, the whole world stopped with you. Kudos to you for guessing the reason why. Next, as if you crossed a zone of activation beams, you came to life again and struggled to get off the escalator. The world is not applauding your leap of achievement because while patience was given to you during our zoned-out period, the world does not appreciate a near-domino-effect when you paused, again, immediately after you got off the escalator to decide the next course of your journey. Please, next time, move quickly away before the world decides a stampede on you.

Forgive me for being the city girl that I am. In my own defense, I have always kept my mouth shut and try to work my way around you without even a glare or a ‘tsk’ at you. Then came the last straw. A week ago, I’d witnessed one of your fellow peers fell down an escalator on a warm, quiet afternoon at a LRT station. I can’t tell if she blacked out momentarily because of the heat or if she tried to balance her shopping basket beside her, either way she fell backwards, headfirst on the up-moving escalator. In my shock I managed to run up the escalator with another guy and held on to her before she slipped all the way down while somebody shut down the escalator. Thank God she was still awake and sitting up by herself when we got her down. There were accusations of the escalator running too fast ( it was not) and the victim even got a lecture on how she shouldn’t try to carry her trolley basket with her on the escalator. And then, I noticed the blood on the floor, instantly all in the same moment, I saw the deep flabby wound on her left forearm, how she tried to cover back the dangling skin and flesh back, the blood stains on the shirt and pants of the guy who carried her down and the blood on my hands and one side of my bag. While my heart ached for that shaky scared old lady, it ached even more for my blood-stained bag which I won’t mention the significance of it for me here. Am I mad that the old lady fell and stained my bag with her blood? No. Am I mad that, old and frail as she is, she didn’t take care of her own safety before everything (that cumbersome shopping trolley especially), fell down the escalator and stained my bag? That will be a Yes.

Which is why now, more than ever, I am asking you to consider your own safety, especially you with mobility problem and Escalator Phobia. Never mind the safety for the rest of us because I trust that we can take care of ourselves, even so with your cooperation to seek out and use The Lift, which is there just like the Needy Seats on trains and buses for your almost-exclusive use! I wish more of the younger generations would realise that and not hoard these lifts for our their convenience’ sake.

That is, unless they are the Escalator-zombies then I encourage you to read this post to them and share the marvelous invention that is The Lift.




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