Stores in my hometown occupied one floor.  There were offices or apartments located above the stores, but were accessible only by stairs. There were no elevators and certainly no escalators.  I didn’t encounter escalators until I moved to the Big Apple for college.  When a girlfriend from my hometown came to visit me and encountered an escalator in a busy bus station for the first time, she stood at the top and panicked as I watched her from below.  Much to the vexation of the people behind her, she could not make herself step onto the escalator, although she raised her foot a few times to do so.  She finally came down the stairs.  We laughed.

Well, I didn’t laugh when I fell on an escalator here in Chicago while doing something stupid.  I had just reached the top of the escalator at the Loyola el stop when I heard the train approaching the platform in the direction that I wanted.  I realized that I was on the wrong section of the platform and decided that the quickest way to get to the appropriate platform was to run back down the up escalator.  Bad decision!

As anyone who has ridden escalators knows, the steps of escalators vary in height as they approach the beginning and end of their formation, where they eventually flatten out and appear or disappear under the building’s floors. 

As I approached the beginning of the escalator on the lower floor, I failed to notice that the steps were in the process of forming steps.  When I stepped on the flat area, I just happened to step on the crack between two steps.  When the steps formed with the crack in between, it made my foot straddle two steps, which made me lose my balance and fall down, head forward.  The escalator at Loyola is not very wide (or I am too wide), so no matter how I tried, I couldn’t turn myself around so that I could stand up.  I finally decided to stop trying and just ride up to the top of the escalator in my awkward and scary position of head down and feet up behind me. I kept expecting my feet to fly over my head and make me somersault down the escalator.

When the escalator arrived at the top, it scooted me off, and I managed to stand up.  I looked around.  I had missed my train and had a scraped knee. But, thank goodness, there was no one around who had seen me escalated.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...