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Escalation (Use Only as Directed)

January 11, 2010

by Adam Ford

We appreciate that a poster
with instructions for the use
of escalators may seem patronising
and might imply we believe you have
the acumen of a four-year-old,

but we need to completely eliminate
any chance that you could point to us
and say we did not do everything
in our power to make your experience
one hundred per cent completely safe

so despite the fact that if you need help
in order to grasp these fundamentals
then a written list of what to do
on the station wall is hardly enough
to save you from yourself,

please take it in the spirit which it was meant
when we remind you to stand to the left
and within the yellow lines, and to hold
the handrail at all times, but never to rest
anything on it, never to run either up or down

and finally to walk off promptly and
immediately step clear, and further to this
please understand that any use
which falls outside these parameters
is counter to the spirit of the contract that

you entered voluntarily into when
you placed your foot on the top or bottom stair;
having given this advice we wash our hands —
your escalation is your responsibility, so
watch your step because we can’t watch it for you.

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Adam Ford (website) is an Australian poet with three poetry collections to his name, the latest of which is called The Third Fruit is a Bird.

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  1. January 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    As someone who, at four years old, did fall on an escalator and became quite phobic about them for several years, this has a certain irony for me. If only that sign had been there for me at the time, even though I couldn’t really read then…

    Wicked and dry, very enjoyable!

  2. January 12, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    i like elevators too.

  1. January 12, 2010 at 6:03 am
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