Escalator Crime Escalates
first posted at Boggart Blog, the UK's top comedy blog
The Barnsley Chronicle (Town Edition) features pictures on its front page of two elderly gentleman who have apparently had a bit of a coming together with a rogue escalator. Jack Faulkner, the earliest victim commented, "Someone is going to get killled."
Boggartblog despatched our BBC Reporter to find out just what is going on in the world of escalators.
Friday lunchtime and Barnsley town centre is reasonably busy. People are going about their daily business; shopping, whinging, hanging about, avoiding eye contact with the Big Issue seller and his dog, swearing, spitting and quietly dying on the benches. It is just like any other run down town centre in Britain.
But things are not quite the same in Barnsley. Here the shoppers are faced with a new wave of terror.
All over town the public tread warily around, and even more warily onto, the escalators.
For the escalators in Barnsley have turned killer.
Having carefully fabricated my expenses claim before the current investigation, should anything happen to me, I approach a silent, hulking escalator opposite Boots.
I ask the escalator what he thinks about reports of escalators turning on innocent people.
"Well, that's a matter of opinion. You say innocent, but there again you wouldn't like them standing on you all day long. Most people are all right, but then there's the youths that run up you the wrong way. Plays havoc with your moving handrails, that does.Then there's the fatties...don't get me started on the fatties
I was investigated once coz I'm not very wide, see, barely two foot across, I'm just designed for single occupancy.So Mrs. Lardarse gets on and she gets stuck, doesn't she?
Is that my fault? No, any fool can see how wide I am, but who gets investigaed by health and safety Eh? Muggins here, that's who.
That's why I'm not actually moving. I'm just a steel- stepped, rubber-handrailed staircase now, with a width warning displayed for all to see. It makes you want to weep, it does.
And did I get a chance to claim back?
She fair crippled one of my steel steps she did, and she didn't half make my drivebelt whine, I can tell you. Could I get compensation for my injuries? Could I eckerslike.
Now me, I'm old school, I was installed back in the seventies, I've got some professional pride. I've got standards. I'm here to do a job and you have to take the rough with the smooth, I say.
But some of them younger ones, well they're not made the same. They take offence and then, well, people get hurt, know what I mean? A toe stubbed here, a friction burn there, and they get away with it most of the time. Just makes them bolder really. I don't know what the world is coming to, I really don't."
I make my way across town to the shopping centre where the escalators tend to hang out. There are two groups of them today, wearing the same uniform of rubber handrails , steel steps and perspex panels.
They huddle in pairs, sneering at members of the public who get too close.
Cautiously I approach one pair.
"What are you lookig at?" the down escalator demands.
"I was wondering about whether you let any people ride on you?"
"Ere, did you hear that. It wants to know if we let people ride on us!" the escalator calls out to its mates. There is a sussurant sniggering from the escalators.
"Why don't you step on and find out?" shouts the up escalator. "If I can remeber what to do that is. No-one's stepped on me in days!"
"Can't think why," screams back one of the downs, "unless it's the blood spatter up your perspex!" it cackles.
"Oh give over, that's ketchup or upchuck, can't remember which. Honest mister. I never hurt anyone, we just like to give them a bit of a fright now and then. Livens things up a bit, it does get a bit boring being stuck in the same place.
Ere I'll tell you what, if you want the real killer escalator get yourself up to the general hospital, that's where he hangs out, the nasty one that does the old men. Outpatients, that's where you'll find 'im."
I thank them and head off toward the hospital.
I wonder if I am being set up for a joke, after all a killer escalator in the Outpatients department?
The Outpatients department is situated to the right of the main entrance. You approach through double doors, automatic, which seem to snap shut too quickly for comfort.
A large atrium awaits and there, glowering in the centre, is a large pair of escalators.
As I stand at the bottom it seems an awfully long way up, the people on the next floor looking like ants as they mill around trying to find the correct line to take them to their appointments.
I join the queue and step tentatively onto the escalator, my hand lightly on the rail. As we glide smoothly upwards I start to breathe easier, this is just an escalator after all.
But then I glance at the approaching floor above.
An elderly man with a stick tries to get on to the down escalator.
He steps forwards, appears to hesitate, puts his stick out to where the step was, and slowly pitches forward, tumbling down the moving staircase, scattering other users like ten pins. A scream alerts an official and the escaltor is swiftly halted.
Staff rush to help the gentleman, whilst the area is cleared.
"What did you do that for?" I ask, my impartiality wiped away by the sheer callousness with which this piece of machinery has just wreaked havoc.
"It's in my contract."
"What do you mean it's in your contract?"
"Government targets. You need to be treating so many elderly people, but some of these old codgers will go on forever with never more than a fresh supply of batteries for their hearing aids.
The geriatrc wards are practically empty.
So I got this contract. Every now and again, give a little judder, distract the attention, Bob's your uncle.
A few bruises, the odd fracture, couple of nights on the ward. Nurses are kept on, cleaners, caterers, doctors meet their targets, victims get compensation everybody's happy."
"It seems a bit of a dangerous way to go about things. People are worried someone will get killed."
"Nah, no chance of that, I'm a professional. I know what I'm doing.
Wouldn't want word getting out though...would we laddie?
That wouldn't do at all, oh no.
On your way out are you?
Well remember, I'm the only way down, do I make myself clear?
I made my excuses and left, carefully.