Sanne van Oosten
Using an escalator might seem ordinary and uninteresting to some people, but not to me. Every time I go up and down an escalator I look at what people are doing and since I’ve been traveling a lot lately, I have been noticing some interesting differences in how people use escalators.
First, in my home country the Netherlands other people’s escalator behavior can drive my crazy! The rule is that people who want to take a rest on the escalator stand on the right while people who are in a hurry to, say, catch a train, can speed by on the left. A considerate rule to make sure that everyone can use the escalator as they please. But not in the Netherlands. Most people will abide to the rule, but there is always one idiot who seems to be unfamiliar with the concept and will stand on the left, whilst inhibiting you from speeding by as you please.
Then we went to China, where the choices are limited due to the masses that inhibit China. The country of 1.3 billion is a crowded place, yes it is. And you feel it. In every single public transport station, it will take you a while to get on the escalator. While trying to get on you will be elbowed left and right by people (often cute old ladies) who want to get a few steps ahead of you. Once you get on the escalator it feels more like you are cattle packed on a truck going to the slaughterhouse. There isn’t space to get move or walk and you just stay where you are until you are dropped off at the top.
Then we went to Japan, where they drive on the left side of the road and consequently queue up for the escalator on the left side as well. People who want to stand, stand on the left so people who want to walk can walk on the right. But where are they, the people who want to walk? I’ve never seen them. I’ve only seen people who want to stand. In conformist Japan, people are always so considerate of others and never want to be all too different from the crowd. This means that the country is filled with half-used escalators. Even when using the escalator to get on the plane after boarding, the escalator will be half full. You know nobody could ever be in a hurry to get on the plane, because it will never leave without the rest. So why is everyone standing on the left, causing an unnecessary line? Because it’s the rule!
Now we are in Taiwan, the happy medium. Definitely not part of China in this case as the escalators are not completely full. It also isn’t like the Netherlands with the omnipresent idiot inhibiting the one in a hurry to pass. It also isn’t like Japan where nobody dares to be so peculiar by passing by the people standing. It just works. People who want to stand, stand on the right. People who want to walk, walk on the left. I only just got here and I already love Taiwan.