Monday 13 February 2012

Escalators or as I prefer to call them - Electric Stairs of Death

Hello dear reader ( s ),
This is a random post brought about by myself and my best friend ever Eryn chatting away as we do almost daily on Yahoo. We almost ALWAYS end up laughing our heads off - but as we get older I worry for us
anyhoo here is a little of what we were chatting about. ( Goes to log into Messenger )
( Two minutes later )

 O bugger - I can't get back far enough and it won't be as funny as what we were actually saying!
But we were discussing escalators and I disclosed the fact that, apart from the wolf under my bed, escalators are the ONE thing ( ok one of the ONE things ) that terrify me to death.

You know that horrible tummy flip you get when you are frightened? I mean proper scared. Like in the middle of the night; you hear a noise downsatirs, your man is snoring gently, you cannot wake him even though you are confused as to  how he can sleep through the THUDDING of your heart as it tries to escape your chest, that unmeasurable fear of stretching your hand to find the light switch in the pitch black, the knowledge that the mad axe man is on his way for your babies,  THAT  feeling about escalators or ESOD
is what makes my tummy flip and my irrational fear receptors go beserk!

I have really thought about this and I think THE most horrendous Safety Ad in the 70s is at the route ( I don't think I mean route but I cannot think of the right spelling or word! )  of my fears.
Actually no - My fears were set off before this!
I was the eldest chld of three.  I remember sitting on the top of a bouncy bouncy Silver Cross Coach Built pram -  in a pram seat designed to carry the older child. These prams were super bouncy and as my mum walked everywhere I remember being on the pram and we would walk over this bridge.
I tried to get a pedestrian view but google didn't have one and I can't be arsed right now to go take one.

Sitting on a pram such as this  - Lisa was all snuggy underneath,  I would be perched atop the little blue seat - with the thinnest of flimsy straps ( they were proper reins of course but even at the tender age of three ish I knew flimsy when I saw flimsy ) . Going over the bridge in this rocking jalopy I could see right over the top of the walls and I remember screaming and creating with sheer and utter fear that I would fall off , OVER into the water.
The alternative was even worse. Not being strapped on the seat meant I could walk - and the screaming must have affected my mum as I was a "good little walker"  after a few traumatically fraught trips - but if you take another look at the bridge you will see it has fancy balustrades  with huge 'comfortably fit a child though' gaps. I wasn;t allowed to walk on the outside because of the traffic - so I had to hold the pram and walk past the thirty or so of these, each one causing a tummy flip as I KNEW I was going to slip through one and fall to my watery doom.
 I HATE bridges. I hate anything other than terra firma. I  do think it's the bouncy pram.

 ~I need to have therapy and charge it to my mum because its tantamount to child abuse - that and the fact I wasn't allowed to have peddlepushers when I was eight years old - I was clearly a neglected child too.~

Gosh I am rambling on.  Soooo escalators. ( cross your fingers I can find the horror film I am looking for on you tube - back in a minute )

Actually this isn't the one that frightened me the most......
I can't bloody find it online.
Hello - are you still here ? I hope you are not too traumatised. The advert I recall was a little girl going up the escalator and a ragdoll was dropped and I think a worker picked it up at the bottom but all he picked up was the hair - because the girl obviously fell into the mecahnical stairs of doom and was scalped.  ( I will keep searching )

SOOOO  more evidence now - Because I was my Grandad's favourite, I would be taken up town by him as a treat - on the bus - no death defying bridge crossings - once we went  into Woollies which had a heart stoppingly MASSIVE escalator in the middle of the store and he went to go up on it, I slipped my hand out of his then of course screamed my head off because I was now lost!!
Its a wonder I can get out of bed in a morning with all this childhood angst.

When I was ten, our class went on a weekend visit to the Capital and one of our treats - [I am obviously going to put this in inverted commas, ] 'treats' was going on the underground. The Tube was fun.  The teachers lied to us. We'd never seen anything like it before in our lives. ( Again. I say FUN - I'd watched the public information films of the dangers of the Tube and how you could get SUCKED under and die a horrible mangled death if you got too close )
But to get to the underground, one had to go, well, erm, under the ground. The first station I was OK because there was just a really, really long set of steps down. Off we all went, crocodile fashion, one teacher at the front to thirty kids. ( With films like that above - we behaved ourselves and we didn't need the one - eight ratio we have nowadays ) ( We actually behaved anyway or we would get smacked!)
 So our experience On the tube - ( once I was on the train - I was fine that I hadn't got left behind on the platform like we were told - because these trains are SO FAST ) we got off the train and round the corner I was faced with this.

Well I got so nervous, clammy handed, I let go of my partner, statred telling the teacher I couldn't go on it, I was crying. So went the teacher, 15 pairs of children behind her in twos - except the last pair wasn't a pair - because I'd wrenched my hand out of my partner's and stood at the bottom shaking with fear.
Now - doing the job I do now, going on EDUCATIONAL VISITS ( we don't go on TRIPS anymore)  I can only imagine what went through Mrs Read's mind as she looked behind her and saw one of her charges NOT doing as she had been told!
SOOOO, the teacher and all the twenty nine children had to come back down the down escalator , where by now a crowd had gathered around the poor hyserical little mite who was too scared to go on the ESOD.
The lovely, kind, concerned teacher, shook me, smacked my legs and told me what a silly girl I was. I refused to go on, I was doing that snot bubbling out of your nose crying - I probably was wetting myself in fear - but if I was , my brain has blocked out that part )
 But a lovely gentlemen - I am pretty sure it was Clark Kent bedecked in a navy Undergroud outfit took pity on me and stopped the escalators and turned them into stairs. Safe, non moving, none welly destroying, hair ripping outingly stairs.
 I'm laughing now as I am thinking how pissed off that teacher and ALL the class were that day because the stairs went on forever!!!! Bet she was knackered!! Fortunately the rest of the trip was above ground on a bus!!! I always wonder what other people's perspectives are of my stories. In the staffroom they'd have been talking about the little brat who wouldn't do as she was told!!!

So I have managed to avoid ESOD travel quite well into adulthood. Besides real stairs are healthier.
Till we took our kids on a whoppingly frugal trip to London a few years ago.
I got the train tickets for £52 return - two adults, two children. Booked us in at the Euston Premier Inn dirt cheap n kids ate breakfast free ( Fill yer boots kids) . Day one we got there at 9am - put the bags into the hotel and we set off on foot. I'd planned our first visit to the British Museum because it was close by. But then as the day progressed, we were following the sign posts that said covent garden 8 mins walk etc - so that by the end of the day we ended up at Buckingham Palace. Which if you look on the map - as I did - you realise its a BLOODY LONG WAY from where we started. Foot sore and knackered we made it back to the hotel and I did not sleep a wink because I knew we were going on the tube the next day.

 First of my fears was my fat arse wouldn't get through the automatic gates!!
Then what happened everytime was  -   I made Mr Radio take our precious offspring and  make him PROMISE me  faithfully that he would be safe with them and make them hold on and not be silly and completely disappear out of my view and go down the escalator  before me - because just even THINKING about my babies on those death traps caused the tummy flip - so I was damn sure I could not watch them.
Then I would gingerly make my way to the Mechanical Monsters 

Now in this present day with going up,  actually - I am kind of fine as long as no one is infront or behind or next to me - I need to guage the rhythm of the stairs and make sure I step on properly and once on I do not move - much to the tuts of daredevil extreme stair riders behind me,  until the top - where I get tummy flip maximum as I step off as fast as I can onto terra firma. It was the going down ones I had problems with. 
That tummy flip was constant. It was like stepping off a cliff. My knuckles were white as I gripped the handrail. I did a lot of
" No really, after you " 
But the thing with the underground is that Londoners go down them doing crosswords puzzles, reading books,  not looking, not holding on, RUNNING DOWN them. OMFG . Adrenaline junkies or what ?!!!
By day four I was quite au fait ( she lies ) with the tube travel.
Please note this is NOT me and a friend casually chatting. HOLD ON YOU FOOLS

So, now you know about one of my most extreme fears. What are yours?


  1. Brilliant - I am well brought up and polite - so Thank You!

  2. OMW, Rachel! I despise escalators, too!! They are pure evil!

    I was never scared straight by ads depicting doll-eating escalators. I had to learn of their evils by first-hand experiences. And it was HORRIBLE!

    My family and i went to a large department store. We were all talking and laughing loudly, as Italians often do, when our party got on the escalator to go to the lower level. I was first, followed by my family, followed by 72 other store patrons. Things were going swimmingly until i reached the bottom. I didn't step. I don't know if i was goofing off or just didn't notice the end of the ride had arrived... but the result was the same.

    The evil escalator tried to eat my tennis shoe. (This was back in the day that all sneakers were called tennis shoes, even if one did not play tennis in them. I did not play tennis.) It took a bite and held on. BAM! I went down. Then one by one, members of my family piled on top of me. Since my shoe was still on my foot, i was powerless in the escalator's grip. It kept spitting more people out, spewing more shoppers - all 72 - on top of me.

    Finally, someone pulled me from my shoe, and my brother fearlessly yanked my shoe from the mouth of the evil beast. But the machine had left its mark. On the rubber toe of my shoe, it had left its greasy teeth impressions... proof of its attack on me.

    It was ::sob:: horrible. So horrible. ::sniff sniff::

  3. O you poor poor lamb xxx ( stifles the laughter as I imagine the world's biggest EVER ' all pile on ' game )
    Someone said the should be called deathscalators

    1. Haha! YES! Oh, you can laugh... i laugh now... now that it's over.

    2. Deathscalators - that was me and I want full credit in the movie!

  4. Awwh Rachel I was thinking about my Mom-in-law, we always had to look for stairs or a lift when we went out with her. She had the same fear that you have. Mine is unrelated. My biggest fear is cars. I am fine when I drive but I HATE being a passenger. I get all those feelings you get when about to embark on an escalator.

  5. I am laughing hysterically now, (apart from I too had the god awful trip across the bridge when I inherited the seat to make way for baby Annette)but when you told me you were going to London on the train my first question was 'how are you going to get out of Euston station, have you seen the size of the escalators??'

    And readers, she is by now way exaggerating she still screams like that now and demands they stop them and turn them into stairs.

  6. 1st off, I've never looked at escalators the same way after an episode of The X-Files where the slithery monster makes its nest under the escalator. This monster emits a soft light & that's what the light under the escalator is from. Oooooh creepy.

    Your post brings back a funny memory for me from when I was MAYBE 5 years old, tops.

    My mom LOVES to shop. Seriously, loves it. LOOOOOOVES it. When normal people go on vacation, they see the sights, local landmarks, neat restaurants, etc. When my mom goes to a new town, she spends every waking moment in the nearest mall.

    So we're in some mall, & my mom is loaded down with bags on each side, so can't hold my hand. She's Carrie Bradshaw, but with an annoying kid in tow.

    We approach the escalators. I'm terrified of being eaten alive by the escalator, so I freeze up. Up goes my mom.

    And then she disappears at the top of the escalator. And she doesn't come back.

    I stand there, staring at the empty escalator, because nobody can get on with me standing there & wait for her to come get me.


    Still I wait.

    Finally a man asks me if I am lost & takes me to an attendant who pages my mother.


    Seriously, she didn't even notice that I never got on the escalator, she had just gone on her merry way without me! I could've been KILLED by that damned escalator, or the monster that lives under it, or whatever.

    Screw it, let's take the elevator.

  7. Firstly ERYN - HOW is it that your MOM is my GRANDAD? Stiil, of course this happened to a five year old YOU because ten years earlier it had happened to ME. Parrallell ( private joke with myself here ) worlds yet AGAIN!

    Secondly - Yes Deathscalators belongs to Mr Battersby - him off Corrie!! Wonder if people read comments?

    Thirdly - that is all.

  8. I will happily take an escalator if it means NOT riding an elevator, aka Box of Death supported by little bits of rope. This may explain why I live in a town where the tallest building is three floors high.

    One of my fondest memories of my grandfather is on a boring shopping trip w/ my mom and Nanny, he taught my brother and I how to run up and down escalators in the opposite direction. It was great fun.

    1. Your Grandad has a theory of 'fun' that I do NOT share!

  9. Can I add my childhood stair related angst to the pot......I too used to get the tummy lurch on escalators but it was the mount/dismount moments that had me fearing for my life. I was sure that if I timed it wrong I would somehow get sucked underneath. Many times I was left standing at the top or bottom with a queue of tutting and sighing folk behind me waiting for me to pick my moment to 'go'.

    But worse...MUCH worse than the escalators were the open plan stairs at home - my mum in her wisdom put curtains across the cubby hole at the bottom...of course this turned the space under the stairs into a black cave which in my over-active imagination harboured something deeply nasty. I'd run up and down the stairs convinced that if I went really fast the 'creature' below wouldn't be able to reach through the gap fast enough to grab my ankle. As it turned out, one day the 'creature' GOT me as I was coming down - I screamed, freaked out and launched forward down several stairs headbutting my mum's mahogany display cabinet at the bottom and breaking several of her beloved knick-knacks in the process.

    It gave me GREAT SATISFACTION to see my brother getting his just desserts for his little prank!! STRANGELY ENOUGH i was never quite as scared of the stairs after that. Maybe the bang to the head knocked the scaredy-cat out of me.....!

  10. It was the 70s - have you missed out the bit where then your Mother smacked YOU for breaking her Precious?! Lovely to see you here Kirsty xxx

  11. I vividly remember a school trip to Preston Guilhall, I was in junior 3 you where in the last year anyway your class was there becuase A fisher was behind me. I was stood at the top coming down ( that was a big ESOD )and for some reason it did a lurch type thing, I was petrified thinking AF was going to fall on me and me onto whoever was in front of me and we would topple down like skittles.
    I am that bad coming down as you do I let anyone on infront of me Airports are full of them the last time we went with A & J they called me Borat ( watch it you will laugh ). But at the end of the day I would rather be strapped to a ESOD than go in a COTS coffin of the skies ha ha I can accronym too like someone we know.


Many thanks for taking the time to read my words and respond with your own thoughts. I always try to reply so make sure you pop back to see!