I keep falling down escalators – and I’m stone, cold sober! Well, I exaggerate. That is: I exaggerate about the falling down, not about the stone-cold sober bit. The problem is the Australians stand on the left.
I’ve been finding over the six weeks that I’ve been here that I’ve reverted to toddler-level proficiency with escalators. When I approach an escalator – up or down – I am conscious of wanting to blend in and stand on the left. I then hesitate, hold back, pick the wrong step to step on to and nearly trip up more times than I like to mention.
I realised this morning that I have to do something about this, but what? One option would be to avoid escalators. This would have the added advantage of being extra exercise.
Let’s dismiss that idea, then! I have nothing particularly against exercise. I like walking to work. But I also like taking escalators. I’ll let the walking be enough exercise.
I then thought some more as I shifted the bags I was carrying under my left arm. And, it hit me. My problem is that a lifetime of carrying things in a country where you stand on the right has taught me habits that are dangerous in a country where you stand on the left. I carry my handbag and another other papers etc on my left. This conveniently leaves my right hand unencumbered to take the rail on an escalator and facilitate the stepping on to it.
That’s the solution. Switch handbag, papers and other carried items to the right arm. Thus my left arm is then free to provide the balance I apparently need.
I tried it, dear reader.
Ooh, it feels weird. It did however work. I demonstrated my normal level of proficiency with the escalators that sprung up to raise me to new heights on my journey to the office. This is good.
What I’m not convinced about is how easy it will be to break the habit of a lifetime and to pick up things in my right hand. What do they say? It takes six weeks to break or form a habit. In that case, I’m looking at conscious effort until 24 May or so. I’ll report back.