There are things in life you never think about – until they happen to you. Like escalator accidents. And surprisingly, once they do happen and you tell others about it, you suddenly find out that everyone else has an escalator story to tell too.
Considering the awful things I’ve heard from others, my own experience – even though it left me walking through a crowded station in my underpants – wasn’t that bad. Unlike some who have had clothing or shoes stuck in escalators, I didn’t lose any fingers or toes, just my dignity.
For reasons I’m unable to explain, my skirt got sucked into the gap between the side of the escalator and the moving steps one morning in the underground (or subway if you prefer). I tried to pull it out, but it just kept disappearing farther into the gap. Alerted by my (really frantic) screaming, someone pushed the emergency button just in time. By then, I was at the end of the escalator, on my knees, and unable to move.
I stayed in that not so flattering (nor comfortable) position for half an hour while the staff tried to reverse the sense of the escalator and get the skirt free. It couldn’t be done. I was therefore asked to take off my skirt and cross the station (rush hour…) in my that-day-not-so-sexy panties to reach the railway offices. Here, a train operator (who was smiling a little too much) lent me a pair of his spare trousers (and may I add, they were not my size or colours).
I later found out that escalator accidents happen quite often. Apparently, in the States, 10 000 people end up in the emergency room every year because of them (I don’t know the numbers in France). The victims are often children standing too close to the sides or sitting down, or teenagers who don’t do their shoelaces, or silly people like myself who wear too long skirts… Apparently, Crocs shoe wearers are also very escalator accident-prone. And so are dogs. A friend of mine told me of a terrible accident she saw where the dog’s paw got ripped off. Escalators are more powerful than you can imagine.
Before my embarrassing, and yes, a little scary, skirt experience, I never thought about the dangers of escalators. When hearing about accidents, I had the classic “that would never happen to me / my child / anyone I know” reaction. I mean, how difficult can it be to get on and off an escalator? Now, I know better. I take the stairs whenever possible and have become quite hysterical about how and where my son stands on the steps when we do take the escalator. I now also wear pretty underwear every day. You never know…
One of the (many) things my mother never succeeded in teaching me was how to walk in high heels. Or let’s just say heels, because they don’t have to be many inches or centimetres high for me to look like a drunken duck when I wear them. (I once strained my ankle badly falling in flat mules).
Mums don’t give up easily (which, generally speaking, is probably a good thing). So every now and then she still buys me a pair of high-heeled shoes I wish I could wear. I have quiet a collection ready for me to “slip on” for whenever I’m invited to a place where I never have to stand up.
I know high heels make you taller and thinner and give you a killer posture. All of which wouldn’t do me any harm. But how people actually walk in them remains a mystery to me. I for one would never criticise Victoria Beckham for anything because I’m in total awe of her extreme high heel walking talent (though I have read she’s going to need a bunion operation soon…).
A few months ago, a special Heels Academy (“Talons Academy”) opened in Paris to teach women how to walk in heels. Strangely enough there’s a course for “day heels” and another for “night heels”. Not sure what the difference is (the height assumingly?), but it’s not making things easier if you also have to adopt your walk to the time of the day! There have also been several “races in heels” going on round the world and I’ve seen videos from Sweden and Holland of “workout in heels” classes.
According to podiatrists and insurance companies though, wearing high heels is a health hazard. Thousands and thousands of women are injured every year when they fall in their stilettos and many more suffer bone deformities and long-term knee injuries. Last year, Scotland’s biggest railway stations even put up posters asking female customers not to wear high-heeled shoes because so many had slipped and tripped and hurt themselves causing havoc for other train passengers.
All this to say that despite the high heel epidemic amongst the “celebrities”, despite all those beautiful and sexy stilettos I pass every day in the shop windows, and even despite my mother’s continuing efforts to try and get me on the wagon, I won’t be wearing heels any time soon. Except maybe lying down, but that is an entirely different question.