Tuesday, September 09, 2008

There’s a Reason Kids are Scared of Escalators

(If you’re reading this on facebook, the pictures won’t show. Go to http://www.mydebacles.com).

I can’t stand it when people stand and wait on an escalator, especially if it isn’t wide enough for someone to walk by. This morning, I was especially annoyed when two severely obese dudes got on the escalator in front of me and blocked my path. From my short experience in London, if they’d pulled a stunt like that, they’d have been bowled over. Sadly, people in the City of Wind aren’t that civilized. Rather than burning a few needed calories, these pork chops stood silently and slowly rode the escalator up.

Maybe I was being a little harsh. I normally don’t make shallow fat jokes to myself. But, it was early in the morning, and I was tired and entitled to a grumpy judgmental personal monologue. I’d walked up the escalator to them hoping they’d take the hint, but the just stood there taking up space, unaware that I had a reason for haste.

I’d just left the gym and this co-worker I’d never seen there before, had worked out and just left before me. I was hoping to catch him going up the escalator. I’m still somewhat the new guy in the office; I’m up for any opportunity to be social and get to know people. Yet, my co-worker got on the escalator and walked up just ahead of me, and I’ll have to catch him on the street, because I’m stuck behind two super sizes.

I got to the top of the escalator just after the larger gentlemen, and felt a sudden pulling sensation. My right foot was stuck. I tried to pull back on it, but it wasn’t budging. My tennis shoe had gone under the teeth at the top of the escalator. One of the boards of teeth must’ve been loose, because it was slanted up, and my shoe was stuck under it. The escalator kept going, pushing up against my foot while the steps flattened out at the top.

I braced the hand rails, planted my left foot and tried to pull my foot back. Nothing. Thankfully, no one was coming up the escalator. The force of the escalator pulled my foot farther under. I had to make fists with my toes, because the escalators teeth had eaten the front of my shoe, and it was still hungry. Holy shit! I could lose my foot.

Some guy in a business suit on his way to work looked down at my peril, laughed and walked by. I was about to shout at him for help. Couldn’t he see that I was in danger? This was real life, not a youtube video.

Escalator’s all have emergency stop buttons. I looked for one on the top rail. Nothing. There was no stop button. The escalator Guantanamo style torture device gobbled another half inch of my shoe. Ow! This was really starting to hurt. Wait, why was I trying to save the shoe? I leaned down and wedged the shoe off with my right hand, and it slid halfway under the board.

I planted my foot covered with only a sock on the ground, thankfully it felt fine. Another few moments and I likely would’ve been in trouble. I walked over to the security guard at the front desk and explained to him that I lost my shoe in the escalator. He did a double take, walked over to the escalator, where a crowd had gathered.

“Oh my god, are they alright?” asked a woman pointing at the lone shoe at the top of the escalator.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, putting my sock foot forward.

“Are you sure you’re okay,” asked another woman.

“Yeah, thanks I’m fine,” I replied. Damn, where were these people a minute earlier when I needed them. Instead, I got some joker who laughed at me and walked away while in peril. I’ve always thought that sterilization was immoral until that moment. One point and laugh guy is enough.

The security guard pressed this tiny button on the bottom of the escalator railing and stopped it. There’s no way I could’ve seen it from the angle I was at, while I was trying to not get eaten by the machine. I hadn’t really looked at the security guard. He had a grizzled veteran look about him. Especially, in how he wasn’t showing any emotion to the situation. “Has this happened before?” I asked.

“25 years on the job,” he said. “Never seen anything like this.”

I thought about saying, You know, I have a website mydebacles.com and I'm writing a book called "A Million Little Debacles." I guess it goes without saying that this sort of stuff only happens to me.

I gave him the necessary information to file a report and assured him that I didn’t need any medical attention. A maintenance team came and fished what was left of my shoe out.

I spoke to the building manager later that day on the phone. She was cool about it. They’re going to pay for the new pair of shoes I had to buy and the orthotics that got ruined. She was probably relived that I wasn’t threatening a lawsuit. She said she was watching the security video, and it looked like I was riding the escalator as anyone else would and then got stuck.

Generally, after something ridiculous happens, it’s easy to blame yourself. For example, when I drove into Marty’s garage door, or got my shoelace caught on top of the fence in Columbus and nearly fell to my doom. But, thinking about it, this wasn’t my fault at all. Not one bit. I was just riding the escalator. It’s almost a good thing that this happened to me and not a woman with an opened toed shoe.

As for the security video, I’m going to request it. And believe me, if I procure it, it’s going on the blog, youtube, break.com, you name it. But, I'm willing to bet they won't give me a copy.

I left the shoe on my desk during the day at work today, as a shallow attempt to create a conversation starter. It worked. It’s not everyday that you see a fangoriously devoured shoe.
As for what to do about the shoe, one co-worker recommended that I keep it and tell my kids someday before going to a shopping mall, “This is why you don’t horse around on an escalator.”


jakemcc said...

Wow. What a story. This is going to cause me to be sure to step off instead of just waiting till I hit the top.

Brian said...

shoelace got caught... a likely story... glad you're okay Debacle.