You don’t want to be That Guy. I met – or I should say encountered – or, really, I should say saw and marveled (in a bad way) at That Guy – while I was trying to buy legwarmers on sale at Century 21. Legwarmers are on the second floor at Century 21, and since stairs no longer exist in any public place, that meant that anyone who wanted to get to the second floor (whether to purchase legwarmers or for any other reason) had to negotiate the escalator.
Escalators typically aren’t that challenging to negotiate. Even a novice can grasp the concept of walking up to the kinetic staircase, placing a foot on one of the moving steps, and then effortlessly ascending to one’s destination. (This is why escalators don’t come with instructions. Even regular people can figure them out, just by looking at them.) Varsity-level players may up their escalator game by walking up the stairs during their automated ascent to heaven.
But then there’s people like That Guy. Alas, poor That Guy. I knew him well, Horatio. (Shit, wait, wrong rant.)
That Guy – like so many of us that day – wanted to get to the second floor. I doubt that That Guy wanted legwarmers – but perhaps he did. (I’m not one to judge.) Or perhaps he wanted some other discounted product that had been hastily assembled in China. We’ll never know.
That Guy didn’t just want to get to the Land of Legwarmers (or Whatever) on the second floor, however. That Guy wanted to look suave and impressive while doing it. That Guy wanted to race towards the moving staircase, bounding like a gazelle, and charge up the stairs as the living embodiment of coolness and grace.
That Guy failed.
That Guy did (as the saying goes) take a flying leap. I’m not sure that I’d ever seen an actual flying leap before. Sure, I’d seen track and field events on TV – so I’d seen people running hurdles. But that is so very contrived and rehearsed. I’ve also seen classical ballet, but those leaps are stylized and artistic and have fancy French names. That Guy was demonstrating a genuine flying leap in a real-world natural setting.
It could have been so impressive. (Except for that it wasn’t.)
The thing about escalators is that they can go both up and down. In order to go up, one needs to get on an upward-bound escalator.
Alas, no legwarmers (or whatever) for That Guy…
Without belaboring the point, That Guy got a running start and charged at the escalator. Perhaps he had read and taken to heart Sheryl What’s-Her-Name’s advice to “lean in.” But when one is leaning in or leaping in, one ought to pay really close fucking attention to that into which one is leaning (or leaping). Is it a featherbed? A wheelbarrow full of African Desert Scorpions? A running table saw? But That Guy couldn’t be bothered with such picayune details. He just started running. (At the wrong escalator. The Hellward-bound one, the pointing down from the Land of Legwarmers (or Whatever), rather than the Stairway to Legwarmers (or Whatever) that That Guy sought.
That Guy actually made it about six or eight feet before he glanced about in a panic and wondered why the second floor was not getting any closer. From my vantage point on the upward-bound escalator, I could see not only the initial Lift Off, but also the Wide-Eyed Horrified Realization, as well as the Shit, What Do I Do Now. I didn’t point and laugh (because I knew that I would just ridicule him later), and because – well, haven’t we all been That Guy – at least metaphorically, if not literally, on the wrong escalator? (Maybe not. Maybe we plan better. And pay attention. And don’t run at moving objects. Or at least not at objects that are moving in the opposite direction than the one we want to go.)
After That Guy realized his error, he immediately began looking around for an exit strategy. An exit strategy was readily had because he was rapidly being transported back to the first floor against his will. Time and Down-Escalator would invariable take their course and summarily deposit him on the terrain from whence he came.
That Guy looked around to see if anyone had noticed. With everyone neck-deep in their phones or preparing for mortal combat over discounted handbags, no one had. Except me.
That Guy glanced up and saw me as I glided by on the Up-Escalator. Our eyes met – his with embarrassment – mine with judgment. We shared a moment that will last forever.
Don’t be That Guy. When you charge headlong at an escalator – or anything in life – make sure it’s pointed in a direction that you want to go.