I am an escalator climber. Ninety-nine per cent of the time*, I will take the climbing lane (which in London is the left lane, odd because on the roads they overtake on the right).
When I get off my Tube train, there is usually two train-fulls of commuters shuffling to get on the escalator. I immediately migrate to the left of the crowd to get into the climbing lane. This is an imaginary lane — it’s not until you get to the escalator that the climbing and standing lanes are defined.
It can be a teeny bit frustrating when I stand behind someone who turns out to be an escalator stander. It means either I haven’t moved far enough to the left or some stander has cheated by illegally using the faster climbing lane to get into prime position.
So every morning I play a game where I try to stand behind people who look like climbers. It’s trickier than it should be. Sometimes, perfectly healthy looking men in suits and flat shoes turn out to be lazy standers. Then you have women with dangerously high heels who turn out to be climbers. One trend that is clear, though, is the fatter the person, the more likely that they are standers.
This makes me think of positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loops.
Five floors is not a lot. It takes me about two minutes, which is about the same time as it takes to wait for a lift and stop at all the floors in between (which is what happens at rush hour). I’ve avoided taking the stairs because (I know this sounds weird) I felt embarrassed walking past the crowd waiting for the lift. I felt especially embarrassed if someone in that crowd knows I work on the fifth floor because they, too, work on the fifth floor. In that context, being a shown to be a stair climber seems self-righteous and snobbish.
So now I breeze past the lift crowd, (a) avoiding eye contact with anyone I might know, and (b) pretending I only need to go to the first floor.
(If someone gets in the lift on the ground floor and gets off on the first floor, I have nothing but ridicule for them. Unless they have a disability, like a limp.)
The main reason I climb stairs and escalators is to build up my chocolate consumption credit. Also, as someone told Damjan, who told me, there will come a time in my life when I physically don’t have the option to climb stairs (and, of course, climbing stairs now can delay that future deterioration of my body).
*I stand on escalators when I’m with someone else and I want to continue a conversation and in case they don’t want to climb.