Ever walked the wrong way on an escalator?
I haven’t. (Yet.) Mostly because I don’t want to get in the way of someone else who’s riding the escalator the proper way.
But I can’t say I haven’t thought about it. Escalators are so very “go with the flow” that you can’t help but wonder what it’d be like if you stepped on it against the flow. Yes, I imagine it would be just like the stairclimber machines at the gym. But somehow, the idea of walking backwards on an escalator is so much more intriguing.
It was that kind of curiosity that came over my stepkids at an airport the other week. Except this was a flat “escalator” — you know, those moving walkways some airports have between terminals to help passengers get places faster.
There were two of these moving belts next to each other, one going in each direction. One going forward toward Gate 86, one going backward toward Gate 82.
We were headed to Gate 86. But the kids, well —
“Can we go on this one?” They both pointed toward the walkway on the left, coming toward us, for people going to 82.
“No!” my husband and I both replied, guiding them toward the one on the right. The correct one. The one ridden the proper way.
Go with the flow.
We got to our gate, and we waited for the plane. But I kept looking back at those walkways.
“I wanna ride on it backwards,” one of the kids said. I don’t remember which kid, because they both were of that opinion.
I don’t remember which kid, because they both were of that opinion.
And, truth be told, so was I.
Even more truth be told, so was my husband.
We two adults looked at each other.
“Can we?” I asked, grinning.
The terminal was pretty low on pedestrians. It was also at the end of a dead-end, so not many people needed to use the walkway as a thoroughfare.
The responsible, predictable, proper adult thing to do would have been to stay put, to do as we were expected.
But sometimes, we aren’t proper adults.
Excitedly, all four of us left our luggage under the watchful eye of my parents, and spent nearly the next hour strolling, jogging, posing, marching and otherwise making absolute fools of ourselves — going the wrong way on the walkways.
Going, as it were, against the flow.
The kids absolutely loved it. And so did the adults.
Yes, following the rules is awesome;
habits and consistency and falling in line are important.
But sometimes, it’s worth it to do the unexpected.
Like walking the wrong way on a moving walkway.
Or going on vacation in the middle of January, the reason we were in the airport in the first place.
The upside of said vacation: Um, vacation in the middle of January. (Need I say more?)
The downside? For those keeping track of schedules, there isn’t a school vacation week in the middle of January. To bring the kids on this trip, we’d had to take them out of school.
For an entire week.
We were also taking them far away from home and their mom, which, if that was ever pointed out to them, might feel a little bit scary.
But having weighed the pros and cons, it was a no-brainer: Yet another week of school, or a once-in-a-lifetime winter trip?
It was my parents’ idea, actually. Originally, they’d asked if we’d wanted to go during Christmas vacation. Though the kids would be out of school, our part-time custody arrangement meant the kids split Christmas vacation between their mom’s house and ours. We couldn’t rightly ask them, or their mom, to give each other up for the entire holiday.
So my folks suggested a week in January.
It would mean missing a week of school. But considering the life experience the kids would get in exchange, it would be worth it.
So we agreed. The kids’ mom agreed. And the kids, of course, agreed.
Just this once, fun trumped school.
There’s a saying, isn’t there? No one ever reaches the end of their life and wishes they’d spent more time at the office (or class). Doing the same-old, same-old. Fitting into the expected. Being predictable.
Sure, work and school are both important. But sometimes, it’s equally important to set aside building a life in order to live that life.
Sometimes it’s worth it to go against the flow.
Originally published in The Herald News on Jan. 27, 2019.