Last year, I sojourned in Japan, visiting about 6 prefectures. I was particularly amazed on how majority of the Japanese are courtly and respectful – from drivers stopping to let pedestrians cross the street, to letting train commuters alight first before boarding, to observing escalator etiquette. A question popped in the back of my head,” why aren’t we practicing these courtesies back in the Philippines?”
Just recently, SM City Cebu and SM Seaside City have installed stickers on their escalators serving as markers on which side to walk, and which side to stand. This is a sensible civility that we Filipinos definitely should practice, don’t you think? Have you ever tried being in a hurry because you need to catch a train or your uber ride and hopped on an escalator but to your demise, a couple is occupying both sides of the escalator- holding hands. You have the option to say “Excuse me,” but with your Filipino heart, it’s just heartbreaking to rift the two love birds apart. Teehee. So yeah, you are left with no choice but to wait until the end of the escalator trip. I’ll admit that I myself stand anywhere I please when riding the escalator; also guilty of friends and I blocking both sides of the escalator before, but with the encouraged escalator etiquette, I,together with my friends, fully support its implementation. Personally, I think it’s a simple habit of developing self-discipline. Yes, we all know that it takes only less than a minute for one entire escalator ride, but it also takes less than a minute per ride to effectuate comity.
SOTR-WOTL. Stand on the Right, Walk on the Left. So pretty much our escalator courtesy signs in the PH suggest the same escalator courtesy in America and Osaka Japan; interestingly, the rest of Japan, particularly in Tokyo, practice the British courtesy – Stand on the Left, Walk on the right. Well if you got a problem remembering the SOTR-WOTL escalator courtesy currently encouraged in our country, just sing silently in your mind these short phrases to the tune of Beyonce’s ‘Irreplaceable’ – To the right, to the right! Everyone who’s not in a hurry move your arse to the right! I bet I got you singing! haha!
But there is more to the escalator courtesy than merely standing on the right, walking on the left. Always be mindful of other passengers’ safety when you are riding the escalator. Like when you are carrying a big backpack or a trolley. Sometimes, backpacks can be tolling to the back and we have the tendency of letting it hang on one arm, and when riding the escalator, the suitable way is to avoid your backpack hang on the left side so it won’t be an obstruction to the walking escalator passengers on the left. You may either tuck it in front of you or keep wearing it on your back. And for those with trolleys, you may rest your trolley on an escalator step in front of you. And those passengers with kids, both may step together using both the left and right side of the escalator, and when boarded, adult may bring the child on a step in front of him/her on the right side. This also works with riding couples. 😉
We Filipinos have hearts, and it’s been in our tradition to give way to and assist elders and those in need – to give our seat to them on public transport or lead them to the front of the line when paying groceries. So if they need to be beside their companion when riding the escalator because it’s needed, then it’s just courteous for passengers to understand the situation, would you agree?
And yes, escalator etiquette has never been a part of the Filipino culture, so let’s be patient with people not practicing the courtesy yet. Encourage them instead, and never resort to denouncing them.
So mga bai, are we all in this together?