Friday, June 29, 2012

On Being an Escalator

What goes up must come down.

And what gets dirty needs to be cleaned. Like teeth. And combs. And plates. And steps. And gears.

And of course the best place to clean all these is in a bookstore.

At the top of thirty-plus stationary escalator steps in my local bookstore, Mark and Mark of ThyssenKrupp Elevator were doing just that (they were quite keen on telling me they were both named Mark). They were cleaning the escalator; just a bit of regular maintenance. The same escalator that usually tries to slow me down had me stopping in my tracks to take in the inner workings of the machine I usually take for granted.

I get annoyed when the escalators are ‘out of service.’ And then I am annoyed at myself for being annoyed because even when they are moving, I practically run up them, so annoyed I am at their slowness. I am constantly annoyed, I guess.

While Mark and Mark tried to do their jobs as I annoyed them, Mark patiently told me the escalator steps they were cleaning were made by Hyundai – yes, the same company that makes the cars. If the escalators go so slow, what are their cars like? It’s not very good for building product reputation, if you ask me, but I digress.

Nestled between stacks of escalator steps and plates, Mark tediously and meticulously cleaned between the teeth of each escalator step, with just a rag and cleaning solution. Not a toothbrush was to be seen, no matter how apropos that would be. Those teeth see everything; gum, muddy shoes, coffee spills, and Cheerios from little kids.

There were many more goobers that, frankly, I really don’t want to talk about as the memory of them triggers my gag reflex.

A power-washer and a driveway would have been the fastest way to go, but that’s just me – always in a rush. And still, with a smile, Mark went through each tooth, polishing and scrubbing with a cloth.

And there I was, annoyed at the inconvenience of the out-of-service escalators I run up most of the time, anyways.

Slow down, the still escalators reminded me.

Those escalators that go slower than the average store’s Muzak system give us time to slow down, reflect, take a breath, take it easy and be still - if only for a moment.

I looked at the dismantled steps piled high. Lint stuck to the oiled gears, the mechanisms within just as gooey. Nuts, bolts, tools and the odd coffee cup littered the ground where Mark and Mark sat.

While Mark scrubbed off things we will not discuss, Mark worked on the empty escalator shaft. I was terrified for him. One false move, and down he could plunge between the gears and bars where the steps usually reside. He better watch his coffee intake; I get the jitters from too much decaf, as is.

But they were happy to be talking to me, telling me random facts about the escalators. They weren’t rushed, weren’t panicking, and weren’t in a flap like I usually am.

They took the time to chat to me and listen to my incessant questions while happily posing for a picture. And they weren’t annoyed. As I later researched ThyssenKrupp Elevators, the company that ‘moves people,’ I realized Mark and Mark truly live up to one of the mottos on the company’s website. They are ‘always a step above the rest.’

Thanks Mark ‘n Mark. I learned something. Be an escalator – slow down.

This is Mark and Mark. Can you guess which one is Mark?


  1. Great post. I never thought about cleaning escalators and I love your final comment: "Be an escalator slow down." How Zen.
    Happy day

    1. Thank you, Jo-Ann.....and it's funny, I consider myself a very 'zen' person, but I guess maybe I am!!! Thank you for reading, Lisa

  2. Lisa, I just love this post so much! It's one of my favorites. And don't mention the goobers or I will gag in unison. Be an escalator - slow down. Love it. You should take that advice of yours when you are driving. I've been there...

    1. Thank you, Janelle! Yes, will take your advice re: my driving. And don't gag....Thank you for reading, Lisa

  3. Lisa, you always manage to find the most interesting things in even the most mundane of things! What a great post. I will think of it every time I'm on an escalator.

    1. Ros - just be careful no to think too much on those escalators....I have been known to trip on the steps when not paying attention. Not pretty, and not fun. Thankyou for reading, Lisa

  4. Another re-mark-able post. Well done. Lisa.

  5. Great post as always, Lisa. We all need to slow down every now and then, to relax, to clean our minds of emotional garbage and to say to ourselves, "There, that's SO much better, isn't it?"

    1. Thank you Philip - how right you are. It's so important to slow down - I forget to. Thank you for reading, Lisa

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