(Continued from yesterday’s post…)
As I said yesterday, I’ve heard stories of people getting things caught on the escalator, and sometimes being seriously injured, but somehow I never quite understood the severity of these accidents. I’d always kind of thought they were an urban legend, the kind of dire threat that parents tell children to make them behave in public. After having done a little internet research, I know that isn’t true. People die on escalators!
And what’s even more scary…Evidently, the escalators in Boston T stations are known to be particularly dangerous.
I’ve heard stories about accidents on the T, of course; an 82 year old woman died on the escalator at State Street last year, and five years ago a man died on the Porter Square escalator when he sat down on the step and his hoodie got caught. I lived two blocks from that station for 9 years! That escalator is really long, so I can see why he sat down; evidently, he was drunk, too. He also worked at Kaya, a Korean restaurant we used to go to all the time. And then the whole accident that caused the Crocs lawsuit happened at Aquarium station, which has an entrance inside the building I work in!
But while I’d heard about these accidents as teasers on ads for the local news broadcasts, I guess I thought the accidents were kind of the victims’ fault because they were drunk, or very old or very young, or they were goofing off or playing on the escalator. In other words, I didn’t think it could happen to an able-bodied, healthy person who was paying attention and not impaired in some way.
Turns out, it really can happen to anyone. Jacoby has walked up and down escalators many times, and he always (instinctively, I thought) avoided the edges and the top and the bottom gaps because they’re sort of naturally intimidating. In the past, he always jumped over the last step. And you see people with dogs on the escalator all the time; service dogs, MBTA police dogs and pets all ride the T and frequent the stations, and you never really give it a second thought. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog carried on the escalator, unless it was already inside a purse. And the warning signs don’t really say anything about pets on the escalators, only children and strollers.
So the moral of the story here is: Escalators are dangerous pieces of heavy machinery. Even though we see and use them everyday to the point that they blend into the environment, they have many moving parts, they run at a fairly quick pace (1-2 feet per second), and they’re made of metal with sharp edges. All things considered, it may well be more dangerous to ride an escalator than it is to drive a car. And, while they do have built-in safety features and emergency cut-off switches, they don’t always work. Supposedly, the MBTA escalators are supposed to all be fitted with sensors that, if anything is caught in the steps, are supposed to stop the escalator. Maybe a cat’s toe isn’t big enough to set them off, but the escalator we were on didn’t stop when Jake got caught. They’re all supposed to have emergency stop buttons, but they aren’t always immediately obvious; the ones on the Broadway T escalator were on the lower part of the right side handrail, quite close to the floor; they also had covers over them that, if you were in a rush and somewhat panicked, seemed like they’d be hard to open. And the stop button doesn’t always work.
Here is Jake on the way home from the vet, riding a much safer MBTA vehicle…a bus!
It may have been the pain medication, or maybe he was still in shock, but he was very interested in looking out the window on the way home.
(To be continued…)