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September 28, 1999: climbed up real high now fall down real far


The escalator at the Porter Square T Station wasn't working today.

Porter Square is the deepest station on the MBTA subway system, and has the longest escalator. I believe the longest escalator around is in a Washington D.C. Metro station, but I forget which, now.

In point of fact, there is not merely one escalator. From street level, a pair of escalators lead down (or up) a comparatively short distance to the staging area with the turnstiles and token-purchase-booth. From there, the three very long escalators lead down (or up) to the inbound platform, from which a very short stairs down leads to the outbound platform (with a short escalator back up).

The long run with three escalators has two down and one up in the morning, and one down and two up in the afternoon. When they're all working. Which isn't that often, presumably due to their length making them more prone to mechanical failure.

Today, I was greeted with the sight of two escalators stopped, and the third one in down mode, on my way up out of the station. Why hadn't they reversed the remaining one, favoring up over down? Laziness, presumably.

I have, of late, been concerned about the fact that I'm not in very good shape. Indeed, it seems, the only exercise I've been getting is my walk to and from work, which isn't good for much. I do climb the escalator two steps at a time, and by the time I get to the top of the second escalator, I'm usually breathing a little heavily. (Assuming I didn't miscount, at the pace I climb when the escalator is working, this is 34 "steps" (foot placements) on the long one, and 19 on the short one--although I would swear the long one is about three times the height of the short one. Maybe I miscounted.) On the other hand, when I first started working, I would get that same feeling about halfway up the second escalator, so things are improving slightly.

Anyway, today, greeted by this sight, I shifted over to the actual stairs, rather than climb a non-moving ecalator. I started climbing it two steps at a time, at my normal pace, but then I said, "what the hell", and started running (jogging?) up them two at a time.

I made it to the top feeling fine (I can't tell you how many steps, though, since I didn't think to count, and the steps are shorter than the escalator steps, plus the escalator count was on a moving escalator). A flight or two from the top, I passed a youngish woman who was going up pretty slowly; she commented "I'm impressed" although I was already ten steps past her by then--so I guess I'm at least not as out of shape as the average American.

I must have caught up with a batch of people who had come up from a previous train, because the final escalator up was pretty crowded--one person per step, and a few steps with two people per step, which meant no passing on the left. I decided, "what the hell", and started up the stairs for this one too.

I made it halfway before I had to stop running, my legs starting to feel leaden. I kept going up two steps at a time at a decent clip, though. Well, most of the way up.

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attribution dammit: Broken Nine Inch Nails