Escalator Etiquette

21 02 2011

The escalators in Germany are really cool.  See those metal posts at the base of each elevator?  The top circle tells you whether you can go on it or not.  The one on the left here says no, and that’s a sign not to try to walk up it.  The one on the right gives you the green light to go, so to speak.  Except it’s really a blue light (with a white arrow).

The reason these signs are necessary is that the escalators actually STOP moving when no one is using it!  And as soon as you step on it, it powers up again.  Crazy!  It’s like magic!  I remember being so surprised the first time I realized that.  Usually, if an escalator is out of order, I’d rather walk up the stairs because the steps are not as big or steep as they are on escalators.  So that’s just what I did shortly after I got here, and Tobias took the escalator – and I was so shocked to see it moving!  That was my first encounter with this system.  Even though I’m used to it now, I’m still a little amused every time.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling extra tired after a long day, I’ll just stand on the escalator and relax a minute as I ascend before having to walk again.  Most days I climb the stairs, because let’s face it – that’s the only type of exercise I am getting these days.  But if I’m in a hurry (or just want to get home quicker) I walk up the escalator as it’s moving — less effort and faster than just taking the stairs.

One of my pet peeves

But one thing that REALLY gets on my nerves is that no one here seems to know anything about escalator etiquette.  You know – if you’re going to just stand on the escalator, stand on the right side so that people who want to walk up can pass you on the left.  A lot of people just stand in the middle.  If I’m feeling bold I can just say, “Entschuldigung” as I push past them, and they’ll generally move over a bit to let me pass.  More often than not, however, you’ve got people standing on the left, next to someone who is already standing on the right.  Double blocked.  Grr!  It probably bothers me more than it should, but this is something you just don’t really expect from Germans.  They’re known for being sticklers for rule-following after all, aren’t they?  I guess that just goes to show you that stereotypes are definitely not always true.  Just like the one that all Germans wear lederhosen and drink lots of beer.  (Nope.  Definitely not.)

Is there an “escalator etiquette” where you live? Do you follow those unwritten rules?




One response

23 02 2011

Someone at work told me that I must have German blood, because I am such a stickler for rules. 😛

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