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The last week had a lot to do with escalators. I’m currently in Coronado, a part of Panama, for my winter break. While browsing the Internet I came across a video that is allegedly of people trying an escalator for the first time. At first I found it kind of funny, but then I tried to understand how what I saw was possible. I mean it’s not that hard to ride an escalator, I think.
I thought of two different reasons: the handrail couldn’t support much mass and the handrail was moving at a different speed than the steps. If you watch the video carefully you can see that the passengers only start to fall when they grab onto the handrail. You can also see that the handrail moves slower than the steps so the people fall backwards.
However, the most interesting escalator-related thing that happened to me this week (I take a notepad wherever I go so that I can document interesting escalator-related things for a weekly top ten list) was at El Machetazo, a store in Panama that resembles a Walmart. El Machetazo has really fancy escalators. Between the first and second floor there are four escalators: one to bring people up, one to bring people down, one to bring shopping carts up, and one to bring shopping carts up. Never before had I seen such an interesting escalator! I quickly added it to my top ten list for the week.
So, naturally, I grabbed a cart to test it out. I slipped the cart through the door-like pieces of plastic warning people not to go up the cart escalator and the cart began its journey up to the second floor. I rode on the human-escalator beside it, which went faster than the one for the carts.
At the top of the moving stairs there was a woman whose job was to smile and explain to people, in Spanish of course, how to use the fancy escalator. I don’t know Spanish so I didn’t heed her instructions but instead took the shopping cart, made a 180 degree turn, and pushed it into the escalator that brings the shopping carts downstairs. I rode along-side it in the adjacent human escalator. When I got to the bottom, I made another turn and continued to bring my empty shopping cart up and down as people stared.
When I got to the top, probably around the fourth time, she said something to me in Spanish. “No hablo español,” I declared as I took the shopping cart downward. I then brought it back up and said, in English, “Do you speak English?” She stared at me and shook her head. “Ok!” I responded as I shrugged my shoulders and took the shopping cart down again.
On the way back up she stared at me and shook her head disapprovingly. I took the shopping cart and walked away, passing my Dad as he went down the escalator to see what was for sale on the first floor.
Later, I went up the escalator with the shopping cart again. Only this time she grabbed the shopping cart as soon as it left the escalator and held onto it. Uh-oh. She took the escalator, made a 180 degree turn, and sent it down the other escalator, smiling.
How to Open a Coconut
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