I’m not very keen on escalators. I wouldn’t go quite as far as to qualify my discomfort as a phobia, because I’m not strictly scared of escalators, but I certainly would never step on one absent-mindedly. That being said, I don’t really go to great lengths to avoid them. It’s just that whenever an escalator is juxtaposed with a flight of regular stairs, it is very unlikely for me to opt for the moving stairs. I would refer to my mental state before stepping on an escalator as one of increased body awareness, not in the sense that I suddenly become very self-conscious about my weight, but in the sense that I can feel pretty much every muscle in my body and become conscious of every little movement I make. Other people need to practice meditative yoga to achieve this level of body awareness! Whereas you can put me on an escalator and that’ll do me just fine. Though, to be fair, the aim with yoga generally is to reduce anxiety, not increase it.
Whenever something unexpected happens on an escalator—no matter how minor it may seem to everyone who’s not me—I basically think I’m going to fall over and die, which isn’t all that fun. See, I very much like being alive. At a push, I would venture to say it’s my preferred state of being.
Let’s say that, as I step off an up-going escalator, my foot touches the ground a quarter of a second later than my brain has calculated. This alone is enough to leave me in a state of utter helplessness, which in turn makes me very panicky. I usually release a barely audible but nonetheless deeply thanatophobic gasp. At the same time, my mind is already skimming the catalogue of ways in which my life could end. Well, technically, the only thing I can really see happening is me falling backwards, hitting my head on the edge of a lower step and dying via blood loss. Worse still, I could come out of the incident completely unscathed only to be pointed at and laughed at by every witness of the incident. I think the simplest thing to do in that case would be to fake being unconscious. Now matter how humiliating it may be, the great thing is that even if you’ve taken a tumble on an up-going escalator, you’re very likely to make it to the top anyway! Can’t say that about regular stairs, can you?
Of course, none of this has ever happened as of yet. What usually happens is that I regain balance rather quickly and then wonder why my brain has to think I’m going to die all the time.
A bit of soul-searching is in order. Where could my unease about escalators have emanated from? Well, I remember that I once had a nightmare, a long while ago, in which I fell over backwards on an up-going escalator and kept falling and falling, but the escalator also kept bringing me back up, effectively tormenting me with no end. I woke up marinated in my own sweat, still panicky and also perplexed by what had just happened. And all the cum in my pants didn’t make it any less confusing.
I also recall that, as a little boy, I once pressed the stop button at the bottom of an escalator in a reasonably busy department store on a Saturday morning. I should emphasise that, at the time, my motivation for pushing the button was not anxiety or fear of humiliation, but curiosity. My sense of wonder had been activated by the sight of a mysterious button, so appealingly red, round and big that, as far as I was concerned, it was basically inviting me to press it. I then abruptly came to learn that what the button does is deactivate the moving stairs, essentially turning them into regular, stationary stairs (it was a major breakthrough in the intellectual development of Kevin Lux). An unpleasant by-product of immobilizing the stairs was that I had created what could only be called an atmosphere of annoyance, resulting in mild profanity being uttered in my direction.
I don’t think either of those memories is responsible for my escalator unease. Having thought about myself a bit, I’m convinced it must be to do with my general compulsion to walk super carefully. I put a lot of effort into not falling over, probably a lot more effort than necessary, which can result in some mental discomfort every so often. On the other hand, I have an impeccable record of not falling over. A lot of people would be jealous, I’m sure.
It may surprise you to learn that not all my feelings about escalator-related matters are negative. I think my perception altered a little the first time I visited London and got to witness the pure beauty of order. People seemed to naturally position themselves on the right-hand side of escalators so as to let those who are in a hurry pass. There are, to be fair, signs that remind you of escalator etiquette, but there’s signs for all sorts of things everywhere that people don’t respect; speed limits, signs that ask you to switch off your phone in dentists’ waiting rooms, etc.
And it’s not just escalators! Bus etiquette too is extraordinary! The first time I got to see how neatly Londoners queue to get on the bus, the anally retentive part of me had a full-body orgasm. Nowhere else in the world have I ever witnessed such a beautiful phenomenon. All I’ve ever seen outside of London is people blocking both doors of the bus before they’re even open, thus giving the previous passengers hardly any chance to get off the bus, ultimately resulting an impenetrable crowd of people having to walk in opposite directions through narrow doors. All this in the name of the petty pursuit of window seats.
Going back to escalators, there’s one more thing I would like to say, and this is something I think about a lot. You know how, supposedly, when you die your soul ascends to pre-heaven where queue up on the stairs before the Pearly Gates until you reach the top and the bouncer (Jesus) either grants you access or turns you away? Well, I often wonder if God has adapted to humanity’s technological status quo and replaced the stairway to heaven with an escalator. Seems unlikely. Then again, I don’t see why not. God seems like he makes reasonable decisions from time to time, so who knows? Not that I’m ever going to make it to heaven, of course. You’re looking at a man who once tickled the bellend of a Jesus statue for a laugh (great fucking joke, mate). I would have kissed it too but the statue was made out of copper, which has a really nasty aftertaste (no thank you!). Going to hell is so much more convenient anyway. When your time has come, you don’t even have to do anything. You just fall through a hole in the ground until you land in hell. Whereas even the most devout Christian will have to walk up a long and steep set of stairs to reach the Pearly Gates. True, you do get eternal bliss, but I mean, how good can that be?
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