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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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delirium happy
I realised something else about London as I lay in bed last night: the escalators just don't belong.

As I mentioned, most of London seems to have an anarchic survival of the fittest approach to getting from A to B. The only place this doesn't seem to be true is the escalators on the tube. The way they're meant to work is that everyone should stand on the right, so people who are in a rush and wish to walk/run up/down the escalator have a clear path on the left in which to do so. More alarmingly, that is exactly how they work.

The rest of the tube system is as bad as the rest of London. People ignore "no exit" signs, keep to the right when signs are telling them to keep to the left, push and shove to get on and off the trains, jostle you at the ticket barriers, and so forth. But the you get on the escalators and there's this little bubble of serene calm where everyone's actually doing what they should be, and being considerate to their fellow man.

Even odder is that this extends beyond the tube. I noticed when I was in Borders that the escalators there just had a nice line of people al standing on the right. There's not even any particular compulsion to do this outside of the tube, but apparently everyone has been well trained into being well-mannered on escalators and they do it instinctively.

It's quite freaky, really. It's as if all of London's escalators have been implanted from another time or place, where people actually care about each other.

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I don't know why this brought to mind Manny, and his Little Book of Calm.

London is not as chaotic as it first appears - there are rules, but many of them are not obvious upon first inspection. They get enforced through group behaviour. Stand on the left and you'll find life harder than it needs to be, so people quickly learn. The "no talking on the Tube" rule is another one. The place exists almost as a bubble of separate customs and culture within the rest of the UK. I tend to draw the boundary at the M25, outside which I'll stand on the left ;-)

Lovely meeting you, btw.

Driving within the boundaries of London certainly has different rules. It's as though someone mysteriously ups the adrenaline to max the moment you pass beyond the M25. The acceptable way of driving out of a side road then becomes to pull out into traffic and force them to stand on the brakes. Also if you want to change lane, it appears you just drive sideways and expect others to swerve to avoid you.

That sounds pretty much like normal driving over here in Boston, MA, actually. Who needs directionals? ;)

Some would say, of course, that the escalators are closer to an ideal "anarchic" situation than the trains, since on the trains the people who can push hardest are in control.

What interests me is the way the escalator rules completely and utterly fail to apply to stairs. What little convention there is about which side to use is regularly ignored, people stop without warning at any point, and worst of all, turn around and proceed against the flow.

An escalator that isn't moving seems to retain some (but by no means all) of its escalator powers, however.

An escalator that isn't moving seems to retain some (but by no means all) of its escalator powers, however.

Uhh... standing on the right of a non-moving escalator?

Walk at normal speed, stop to faff with luggage/catch breath/etc on the right, leaving room for scary high-speed running commuters on the left.

D.C. has the same walk left, stand right implementation on the Metro. Which makes perfect sense to me, as it's exactly like driving--passing on the left makes sense when you drive on the right.

Yep, and you find people doing the same with escalators in shopping centers, bookstores and the like here, too. It just rather makes sense.

That escalator thing is so cool. If you could discover the principle that makes it work, you would become rich and famous [or at least powerful] in a heck of a hurry. The fact that it doesn't work on stairs [mentioned in a comment, above] is perhaps a clue.

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