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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Loveliness on an Escalator

It’s good to be reminded, occasionally, that I’m actually a pretty low-key person.

Oh, sure — I can work up a good lathery rant, or get bent out of shape every once in a while. But compared to a lot of people, I keep my blood pressure somewhere south of simmering a fairly good deal of the time. I forget that sometimes, so it’s good to be reminded. Like yesterday morning, for instance.

My office gives us employees parking passes for a nearby garage tucked under a shopping mall. I usually get there a few minutes before most of the stores open — but the mall features a Starbucks, which rolls out the lattes starting at some ridiculous pre-dawn hour, so there are usually a few people milling around sipping. Or window shopping. Or schlepping their butts to work, like me.

The path from the parking area to the exit leads up a long escalator, and that’s where I was reminded — twice — that I’m just not the raging hothead I could be. Maybe I just need to work harder at it. Practice makes peevish, right? Anyway, here’s what happened:

As I entered the mall, I saw two middle-aged women nearing the escalator from the other side. They were chatting, quickly, and walking — slowly. Close behind them was a man hustling for the escalator, but blocked by their lollygagging lack of legmoving. He tried to skirt around them, ducking the other way around a support column, but it wasn’t to be. Short of physically elbowing them out of the way, the ladies were beating him to the escalator.

Which they did. They then — as so, so many people do in this mall, and probably all the others — took positions side-by-side on one escalator step, still flapping their jaws. And completely blocking the way for anyone to get by. Like the guy who was just desperately trying to claw past them, for instance.

He reached the bottom of the escalator, with me now trailing close behind. But instead of stepping on, he threw up his arms, huffed and turned around, spitting, “Unbelievable!” as he stormed by.

I don’t know what he didn’t believe, exactly. This shit happens all the time. People get cocooned up in their own cozy little world, chitter away at each other, and wind up obliviously in the freaking way. That’s not just believable. It’s expectable.

Besides, if you really need to get past one of these camped-out chowderheads, they’ll usually move if you ask them. Those people aren’t complete statues, after all. They’re more like barely-trained dogs. They just need a little coaxing, some training. And ideally, having their noses rubbed in their own dirty business once in a while.

So huffy guy stalked over to the elevator, fuming, and presumably took it to wherever he was rushing to. I don’t know; I didn’t see him again. Maybe he found some innocent bystander to bitch to. Or some slow-footed coffee swiller got in his way, and he slaughtered them and wrote ‘BELIEVABLE’ on the elevator wall in their blood.

(That’s an Untouchables reference, by the way. That sort of gruesome awful scene doesn’t just pop randomly into my head.


Anyway, that guy stomped away, his proverbial Wheaties thoroughly pissed in. I took his spot on the escalator, behind the wall of warbling lady flesh riding up ahead.

That’s just behind them, to be exact. Given their thoughtless positioning, I decided to set up shop on the step right below them. Maybe I’d make them a little uncomfortable, invade some personal space, that kind of thing.

(Hey, I may not be a hothead, but I’ll do passive-aggressive with the best of them. Everybody’s got their schtick.)

Of course, they didn’t especially notice I was there, as they chittered away. I didn’t bother trying to get past them, or grunting “unbelievable!” or “outrageous!” or “the nerve!” at their backsides. I’m too cool-headed for that.

Just as I was congratulating myself on outstanding civility in the face of grave douchiness, the ladies broke their conversation and one turned to address me:

Say, do you know what time it is?

I smiled, cheerful humanitarian that I am, and said, “Sure, just a sec.” I fished out my phone, flicked a button, and told her that it was ten minutes till the hour.

I thought she might thank me — because I’m naive and stupid that way sometimes. It’s usually early in the morning, before the full weight of humanity’s infinite capacity to disappoint kicks in. And, true to form, she didn’t thank me, but rather nodded and turned to her friend, clucking:

Tsk. Nobody wears a watch any more, do they?

This is when I understood how low-key I really am. On the surface, anyway. Barely.

Because just underneath my lingering smile was a response. A “well, you clearly don’t, you loitering cow” or “you want a watch, lady — watch this“. Or even a simple “shove it, bitch“. Because the classics are always in style.

But I didn’t. I simmered down, rode the rest of the stairs breathing politely on the back of the cow’s neck, and then went on my way. My only-slightly-less-merry way.

Because apparently, I’m a pretty low-key person. Or at least I can pretend to be one, every once in a while. I know, right? Who would have thought?

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