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It's a lark, ascending

Date

Heckler

The escalator shows us everything that is wrong with humanity. You're in your local Westfield browsing through the latest consumables. You reach an escalator and you think, ''Oh great, I wanted to be on the next floor up, but I really didn't want to walk there. I needed a rest, you know, because life is so hard.''

OK, so my coming point is bleedingly obvious. People are getting lazy. We are so used to having some kind of technology do everything for us, we're barely able to function without an internet-enabled handheld device nailed to our palms. You don't believe me, I've discovered the formula for laziness. No bull. It's 412 multiplied by 18. Seriously, work it out. Do it now.

The answer? You just used a calculator. People don't use their brains to do maths, they use calculators. They don't know how to cook, they get takeaway or oven-ready dinners. You can't remember how to get somewhere, but why should you when you've got a GPS? Spelling above the level of a year 7 student is a lost art. In fact, nowadays, we can't confidently talk about anything without sneaking a look at Wikipedia. The information age has brought knowledge to the fingertips of anyone with the internet, but this only means a six-year-old can function about as well as the average adult.

Worst of all is that we can't get up a flight of stairs without a machine carrying us. Oh, the horror of walking.

The escalator is the perfect example of not only our laziness but also our contempt for the natural environment. It's not as if they're powered by elves, love or solar panels. Think about how much energy it would take to pull 50 people up a flight of stairs, then multiply that amount by the minutes in a day. That's a lot of energy. Think of the children, man!

My suggestion is this: unless you sincerely cannot, next time you need to go upstairs, take the old-fashioned type. If there's only an escalator, at least walk up it. You will get some exercise, save that little bit of planet and take the first literal step in breaking away from technology dependence.

It won't be long before you prefer to walk. It's faster than standing idle and it's healthier. You'll look at all the Biggest Loser candidates being hauled to the next McDonald's and think, ''look at those porkies.'' You may feel a little mean for thinking that, but deep down you'll feel superior.

Soon you'll be able to do other stuff without a machine helping you. Someone will ask you a question and you'll answer without pulling out your iPhone.

Take the stairs.

Pete Malicki

22 comments

  • ...which would be fine, except escalators aren't actually designed for walking up - the risers are configured differently from normal stairs.
    So 18 escalator stairs feel like 7416 real stairs (and I didn't even use a calculator!).

    Commenter
    Merri
    Date and time
    February 18, 2010, 7:16AM
    • Fully agree with the author.
      Now, if only the mindless mass of humanity stood to one side rather than clog up the walkway, it would be a hell of a lot easier to walk up escalators (stores usually don't have actual stairs).

      Commenter
      Robbo
      Location
      Syd
      Date and time
      February 18, 2010, 7:32AM
      • Here here!

        Why is it that perfectly able people can walk up to an escalator and instantly lose the ability to move one leg in front of the other? At least if you are going to stand still like a zombie, stand to the left and let those of us who like to walk past.

        Another hint - when you get to the end of the escalator - move out of the way! The dozens of people still on the escalator behind you have to go somewhere - and running into you is sometimes our only option!

        Commenter
        Craig
        Location
        Lilyfield
        Date and time
        February 18, 2010, 7:32AM
        • "Craig | Lilyfield Another hint - when you get to the end of the escalator - move out of the way!"
          I agree with you on that one! have you been to Chatswood lately?
          its really annoying how alot of old people get to the top and stand there once at the top blocking the entrace & you have to literally push them out the way. Lazy!

          Commenter
          Sarah C
          Location
          silverwater
          Date and time
          February 18, 2010, 8:09AM
          • Worse than escaltors are those wonderful devices called "Travellators", usually only found in Airport Terminal Buildings. They crawl along at a slow speed, and they do this for a reason...you are supposed to walk on them! They get you from A to B much quicker, which is the whole point in an Airport Terminal Building.

            Now, some shopping centres have these devices. Chatswood and Rhodes come to mind. Why then to do people insist on getting onto these things and then just stand in the middle of them? Ok, people with shopping trolleys I can understand (because the trolleys have special wheels that lock into the grooves and stop them from rolling), but the rest of you lazy sods have no excuse. Oh, and for crying out loud...Keep LEFT!  If you tried this kind of thing in New York, you would get mowed down by the stream of pedestrians coming the other way.

            Commenter
            Paul
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            February 18, 2010, 8:30AM
            • I always walk up escalators, they move much too slow for my liking!

              Commenter
              t_b
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              February 18, 2010, 8:36AM
              • I lived in a European country where people would almost kill to beat you to the escalators, then stand in front of you. not wanting to move when you want to get past. More funny than anything

                Commenter
                Gary Frances
                Location
                Thailand
                Date and time
                February 18, 2010, 9:19AM
                • Oh please. I do maths for a living, and I use a calculator to multiply 412 by 18: not because I don't know how to do it in my head, but because it gets the job done more quickly and means I can devote more time to more interesting tasks, like posting online comments. Do you still do all your laundry by hand for the sheer moral virtue of it?

                  Commenter
                  Tony
                  Location
                  Melbourne
                  Date and time
                  February 18, 2010, 9:31AM
                  • It's amusing that half of the comments posted so far perfectly illustrate your observation that "spelling above the level of a year 7 student is a lost art".

                    Commenter
                    H
                    Location
                    Sydney
                    Date and time
                    February 18, 2010, 9:40AM
                    • Yeah I get it, but the Westfield analogy is silly. 6 level shopping centres that service all walks of life? People go there for to shop not for a workout and if you're a business on the 6th floor, I don't think you'll get a lot of trade.

                      As for the other stuff, using a calculator, I've never understood the issue with that either. They're ubiquitous, and accurate. It's the end not the means that's important. I love machines that make my life better. The dishwasher that does a better job than I and saves me time, the automatic timer on the sprinkler that waters the plants, the washing machine, the dryer. The robot vacuum cleaner that cleans my floors and puts itself away when I'm at work.

                      And as for the GPS. The GPS has probably contributed more to marriage and relationships and made for more happy journeys (on the whole) than any other device in the last 10 years.

                      And as for the internet and wiki, information on it's own has no power, just as intellect is nothing without intelligence.

                      We are living in an awesome time.

                      Commenter
                      SF
                      Location
                      North Sydney
                      Date and time
                      February 18, 2010, 10:00AM

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