Summer rerun: Escalator etiquette

I went to campus recently and experienced again something I wrote about previously. I was going to provide a link but couldn’t find the original post on Xanga. Then I remembered that I posted it elsewhere when I had gone on hiatus due to some issues that arose about my online identity. Technically, it is not a Xanga “repost”, but it’s still a rerun as I’m sure some of you may have read it previously. And yet here it is because, well… it’s just plain disgusting.

I went to work today as I always do. I take the train into town, and for me it is an easy commute. I lived in Japan for a number of years and now truly appreciate mass transportation: no wear and tear on the car, lower insurance premiums, no headaches of sitting in a car stuck in a two-lane parking lot (route 66). A five minute skip from my house to the station, 25 minutes on the Metro to DC, then a 3 minute walk to my office. Not a hard commute at all.

Now, I usually run a little late, what my friends used to call JST (Japan Standard Time) which means about 20 minutes later than everyone else. As a result, I always end up running to the station and walking up and down the escalators. Which brings me to my point: There is such a thing as escalator etiquette. In DC, anyway. The standard unwritten rule is “stand to the right, pass to the left.” When I’m with Mus… uh, I mean, the wifey–geez, now that I think of it, what should I call her now?–anyway, when we’re on the escalator, we will usually stand behind each other to allow others to walk up to our left. But when I’m by myself, I am the one passing to the left. Many out-of-towners are unfamiliar with this rule and I usually don’t say anything. I just stop behind them unless I’m really late: “Excuse, I’d need to get through.” I have had people roll their eyes. “Look, Herman. They’re all show-offs, walking up escalators.” Or, “Geez, what’s his rush?” I want to say something like, Look Harriette, not all of us are on vacation. But I usually think better of it, and just ignore them. Another basic rule is to take the elevator when you are lugging around a large suitcase or stroller or bicycle. Not only does it block the entire width, it is can be dangerous trying to balance something oversized on the steps of the escalator.

But the one rule of etiqutte that everyone must absolutely follow was ignored today, by a middle aged man walking up the escalator in front of me. He obviously didn’t realize that one must never, absolutely never fart on the escalator. Walking up the escalator as I usually do, my face is around butt level of the person ahead of me. I get the first whiff… Oh man! Who cut the cheese! But I’m caught in no-man’s land. I want to avoid this malodorous chunk of air–man! my nose hair was curling–but I can’t step to the right, as the people who are not walking upstairs are standing on every step. I can’t just stop because there are others walking up behind me. Even worse, I can’t help but think that the person behind me probably thinks I cut the cheese! I wanted to turn around and appeal, It’s not me! Ugh, I hate it when people are so inconsiderate…