Scenes from the road…

As seen in the airport:



Just…what?  Why is this sign even necessary?  How many crazy motherfuckers were just randomly wheeling themselves down escalators?  And am I the only horrible person who can’t stop giggling at that image?

Ps. After this escalator there was another one with the exact same sign.  Just in case you thought the first was an anomaly, I guess.


112 thoughts on “Scenes from the road…

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I mean, some people like a good adventure – and let’s be honest, risking death or maiming by rolling down an escalator would be a change of pace.

  2. I looks like nobody should use those escalators if it’s unsafe to have luggage on an escalator. At an airport. Save yourself!

  3. We had a crosswalk with a light for pedestrians, that a lot of people ignored. City put up a sign that exhorted one to “Obey the Crosswalk Sign”! Well, if you ignored the light, what makes you think an additional sign will be any more effective?

  4. Back in 1996, I was a volunteer with the Paralympics Games. One of the US Sailing Team members took his chair on the escalator. He held on, and I held my breath.

  5. If I had a wheelchair you know I’d be taking the escalator. I’d have one of those athletic wheelchairs they use for playing basketball and I’d get at the top and yell, “Hot stuff coming through!” before rolling down. If someone tried to stop me I’d say, “What am I gonna do? Break my legs?”
    I can’t decide whether this is incredibly inappropriate or a wonderfully positive attitude.

  6. I definitely giggled at the image of a wheelchair on the escalator. Also, true story…my mom was in the mall with my grandmother who had a walker. My grandma decided to try the escalator with the walker. My mom couldn’t tell the story without laughin . Apparently the walker got way ahead of my grandma.

  7. I can assure you that if the sign is there (or a label or a warning), SOMEONE — or many someones — has tried it.

  8. Best “Unattended Children” sign ever, at the perfume/essential oils shop at Bristol Renn Faire:

    “Unattended Children Will Be Distilled.”

    I asked if they sold the results. Without turning a hair, the woman produced a vial labeled “Chylde.”

    Also, it is possible to ride an escalator in a wheelchair: you can brace yourself against the rails and pull back into the step. It’s crazy dangerous, but it is possible, so I can see where people occasionally try it and therefore the sign has to cover it.

  9. How many crazy motherfuckers were just randomly wheeling themselves down escalators?

    How do you think some of those crazy mofos wound up in a wheelchair in the first place, Jenny?

  10. A few minutes on Youtube shows that people in wheelchairs 1) Try to use escalators ALL THE TIME and 2) Usually fail

    It also shows that I am a heartless bastard, because it is almost always very funny

  11. There are elevators all over China and they don’t tend to use strollers much, so they don’t really cater to that crowd. However, if you are an American who just adopted your new, very wee, 3.5 year old who was also a bilateral amputee you rock a stroller. Anywho we got quite adept at strollering up and down escalators all over China. Thought nothing of it. Side-note, they don’t use car seats there either. That was some scary shiznit.

    How does it relate? A hot minute back from China and there we were pro-strollering on the escalator in IKEA and getting yelled at by the staff. They thought we were child endangering, idiots. I disagree.

    So yeah, some of us need signs sometimes.

  12. You can never make anything foolproof because fools are so resourceful. Jerold Bushberg

    Along with the already linked youtube, there is this:

  13. My dad was the coach and later manager of a wheelchair basketball team. Sometimes the team traveled. Sometimes escalators were involved. Sometimes the less sane players would go down the escalator IN THEIR WHEELCHAIRS. So… you should probably blame Noel and JT for those kinds of signs. (Noel is definitely a crazy motherfucker. JT was, at the time, merely a young person trying to have some fun.)

    And their antics definitely were giggle-worthy!

  14. Um – Reagan National, right? One day in DC is enough to tell you why this sign was necessary….

  15. YouTube has hundreds, if not thousands, of videos of people attempting to use an escalator in a wheelchair. Having seen it once in real life, I’m going to posit that it is more common than you think. It is also apparently, and unsurprisingly, prone to a very high failure rate. As for being a terrible person for laughing about it, I dunno – the YouTube videos are mostly more horrifying than hilarious.

    But only mostly

  16. I used to know a woman who used a wheelchair and was infuriated at these signs because she swore you could use an escalator with one. I never saw her in action, but I gather it was a sort of prop the front wheels on the upper step and lock the brakes situation. Very hard to actually envision…

  17. It being an airport and all, they should include …”baggage carts, pushbacks (used to move planes from the ramp), refuelers, de-icing equipment, catering trucks…”

  18. This sign is needed. I used to work in a department store and I’ve seen people take full sized carts down, loose control and take out all the people further down the escalator …

  19. I will forever think of Mallrats: “SOME parent, I don’t care which one…” “That KID is on the escalator again!”

  20. Being the youngest of four, I was kept in the stroller for as long as possible. I have many, many memories of my mom or brother tilting my stroller back and going down the escalator.

  21. We have a sign at our snowmobile shop that says Unattended Children will be given an espresso and a free kitten. Unfortunately the six year olds that can read always want the kitten 🙂

  22. Full Mallrats quote:
    There’s not a year that goes by, not a year, that I don’t read about some escalator accident involving some bastard kid which could have easily been avoided had some parent–I don’t care which one–but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator!

    and youtube link:

  23. Some people are just stupid. There is no other word for them. If they are not told what to do, they just have no common sense. But then, that behaviour does clean up the genetic pool. 😉

  24. True Story – at the last Worldcon in Chicago, someone was using a rented mobility scooter and was apparently unfamiliar with the controls because they suddenly zoomed that fucker straight on to the 2-story escalator from the checkin desk to the lobby! Two quick-thinking fans turned and grabbed the thing from the front and someone leaned on it from the back to stabilize it, and the whole crew majestically rode all the way down. I was in Ops when the radio calls came in just afterwards.

  25. What about unattended large children? Shouldn’t it be more about age than size? Or are we only concerned that the adorable, petite kids might get hurt?? Stop with the blatantly sizeist attitudes, people!!!!

  26. Sadly, that sign is there because insurance-company lawyers determined that a statistically-significant number of people have attempted each of the actions listed* on the pictured escalator or on other escalators at that same facility, and in doing so placed the owners/operators of the facility in the position of eventually having to pay for treatment of injury or damage resulting from said actions. It could be more succinctly-worded: “Please don’t do dumb things and sue us!” but you know how lawyers and insurance companies are about simple and direct language.

    Not to mention a few other unspecified stunts which no doubt involved breathtakingly imaginative thinking.

  27. Personally, I don’t think the signs help, since “stupid” can’t read or won’t read.

  28. There has been an irrational occurrence of wheelchair-using people surrendering control of their wheelchairs to a deity. This bizarre act is proceeded by a cry of “Jesus take the wheels.” How can I emigrate to Switzerland? Germany? Scotland?

  29. My fave is the “Unattended children” I’m sure the sign really stops that child because lets face it you can read at 2 years old right?

  30. There was a time, when you couldn’t expect elevators for the public in a public building in my country. So people in wheelchairs used the escalator. If you know the technique it is no problem, of course people were not rolling it down. Like it is definitely no problem to use it with a stroller without endangering your kid, yourself or others. Considering this as crazy, stupid etc. is a very US-American point of view, where people have to be warned about hot coffee and not do dry the cat in the microwave…
    But Jenny you are awesome!!!!

  31. I confess that many years ago as an adolescent and inexperienced wheelchair-pusher traveling with my grandmother, I did consider it. I envisioned wheeling her onto the escalator backwards, (big wheels down, you know) and thought that maybe if I tilted it just right I could balance it and get down, no problemo. But then I suspected Gramma & I would have a sad and rude awakening during the attempt so I aborted the mission and we found the elevator instead.

  32. I am noticing that they have not banned raccoons, or other taxidermied animals. You could have some fun with that one. 😀

  33. Well, at my Safeway, people send their full grocery carts down the escalator. Or rather, the cart is shoved onto the escalator, and the food within is scattered hither and yon on the way down as the the whole thing goes somersaulting.


    Oh, that’s a golf term.

  34. Was this at JFK? Because if it was, believe me, that sign was needed. I’ve seen toddlers doing backflips down escalators there. And I’m only kinda kidding.

  35. That sign is necessary. If I were confined to a wheelchair, pretty sure I’d still try to take the escalator if my wheelchair fit on it. Not that the sign would stop me. I hate waiting the elevator (which most assuredly is not situated anywhere convenient).

  36. Unattended children at my vet’s office get an espresso and free puppy. I always thought that was puppy endangerment.

  37. To be fair. I used to take my first kid on the escalator in his stroller, I would just balance the back wheels and let the front wheels float in the air on the ride 😛

  38. wait.. how is luggage not allowed on an escalator at an AIRPORT?!! i guess the same folks who can’t manage luggage on an escalator really shouldn’t even attempt a wheelchair on one.

  39. I’m a little concerned the sign isn’t also in Spanish, German, Greek, French, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Zimbabwean, and Braille. They probably don’t have room, and just turning the escalator off would lead to the need for more signs…..maybe there isn’t a solution to this problem. We need to appoint a committee to study this problem. That, or go down the corridor, find some fresh coffee, and then spend some time people watching, as they ignore the existing sign.

  40. Do parents just put small children on the escalator and say “See ya at the bottom” ???

  41. I just had a mental picture of me, in a wheelchair, at the top, going, “Yeah. I’M TOTALLY TAKING THIS THING, ALL THE WAY DOWN”. I’ve spent time using a wheelchair AND a walker. Trust me, you don’t even want to go across a threshold in one, let alone a moving staircase…

    I’d be super tempted to write across the sign in big Sharpie ink: WELL, DUH

  42. It also says no canes. What the hell? I always have my cane on the escalator. I mean, I don’t try to hobble up or down the moving steps, but c’mon!!!

  43. Am I the only one who thought it said “Crunches” ?
    Cuz that would make sense.

  44. It is necessary Jenny. Might stop some of my friends from doing it. I have Spina Bifida and although I am ambulatory, i have lots of friends with SB who are in wheelchairs who have no problem using escalators. Not kids, but adults. So I don’t know about the strollers and walkers and all that, but in an inaccessible world, built for the able bodied, sometimes you have to get creative when you’re in a wheelchair. Plus I’m not telling this guy (with sb) not to do anything.
    Rare miss with this post. #Disappointed

  45. A restaurant where I used to eat had a disabled elevator with a sign next to it: “in case of fire or earthquake use the stairs”.

  46. My little sister and her friends are paralympic athletes and when we travel together there are 16 people on the wheelchair tennis team, each with two chairs. Waiting for the elevator is insane so a lot of us just hit up the escalator for times sake, especially if we have a connecting flight to make.

  47. I like the warnings that you shouldn’t use your hairdryer while you are standing in a tub of water. I was joking about it with a German co-worker and he told me that building code in Germany is that any outlet in a bathroom has to be further from the tub than the length of a cord. I asked him, “What about extension cords?” and he did not have an answer. But really, someone who is determined to dry her hair while she is standing in water in the tub will find a way.

  48. At the Barnes & Noble I used to work at, there was a guy who always used the escalator to get himself on his wheelchair up and down. It was so scary to watch.

  49. I was once a small child left unattended on an escalator.
    My parents had no idea I hadn’t followed them off but had simply gotten back on the up escalator. And that’s where they and the store cops found me, peacefully riding up and down the escalators, having the best time of my life. My dad had to pick me up and carry me off, while I wriggled and screamed to go back. Those escalators at A&S (Abraham & Straus) were the best thing ever!!

    So I can totally understand the ‘no unattended small children’ bit. If they allowed that, the elevators would be clogged with the little critters!

  50. When one works with the public, one sees all sorts of things that one needs to write a sign for. Nothing could surprise me.

  51. There’s a guy who takes the escalator in his wheelchair every day at my Metro station (yes, in DC…and he does this on 2 different escalators). I always stand to the side and wait until he gets up before getting on. He’s yelled at me about it before (apparently I am a whole host of interesting things for distrusting his abilities, including ableist and racist), but I just say “look, you’re perfectly welcome to risk your own safety and life…you have no right to risk mine.” That did not change his attitude, about using the escalator or me.

    Also, PLEASE keep the strollers off the escalators. Not only is it risky, but it blocks the escalators so no one can walk past you. We WALK on escalators in civilized places. Either use the elevator, or take the kid out and fold up the stroller.

  52. I worked dept store retail for 15 yrs…escalators were the worst, the WORST calls you can imagine.Wheelchairs issues, check. Strollers w babies, check. Pantless people that thought sitting down and riding off the bottom was smart, check! Ambulance calls, check! Etc.etc.etc.etc….My retail escalator stories are endless. That sign is tame but I’m pretty sure the escalator challenged don’t read the signs.

  53. Hey Jenny, just got my bookplate. Thank you very much! You will go with my signed copies of Ray Bradbury, Jane Goodall, Garrison Keillor and L Frank Baum. Good Company, right? Back to reading FH. Love, Michele

  54. Trust me, its necessary. My friend (who is in a wheelchair) was at the mall with her brother back in high school. She was 18, he was 16. He decided he did not want to walk all the way back to the elevator with her, so he tried to balance her chair on the stairs. Needless to say, she fell out and summersalted down the escalator. She got a ride in an ambulance out of it and we still yell at her brother for it.

    People are that stupid and signs don’t stop them either.

  55. I gave your first book to a co-worker, who sent me photos of particular paragraphs she enjoyed. She said she laughed so hard she cried, while her mom and fiancé just stared at her. Evidently you’re doing something right.

  56. ‘For your safety and the safety of all passengers, airport regulations state you must not leave any luggage unattended. Unless you use the escalators. Then leave them wherever the hell you want. Thank you.’

  57. I was wondering why you focussed on wheelchairs, when they also said no canoes. I mean, much weirder to ride your canoe down the escalator, but I’m sure someone has done it before.

    Then I realized it said ‘canes’, not canoes.

  58. The reason the woman in Boston is trying to ride the escalator while in a wheelchair is that the MBTA has been extremely slow about building elevators, so using the escalator is probably the only way she can go up. They still haven’t totally grasped the concept that people in wheelchairs might want to go somewhere.

    Canes? PIffle. I use a cane on escalators all the time. I can’t wait until that one ends up in front of the judge:
    “Nature of the crime?”
    “Using a cane on the escalator, Your Honor.”
    “Oh good grief.”

  59. In my local subway system, the elevators are chronically and notoriously out of service. I’ve seen several obviously very strong young guys in wheelchairs who have learned to ride the escalators, just because there’s often no other choice. Dangerous? Probably. But it does work and it’s really impressive to see.

  60. The London Underground station near my old house had no elevators and we frequently rode the escalator with my wife in the wheelchair and me behind her balancing it on it’s rear wheels. In the Paris underground stations they actually have signs in some stations to demonstrate this method due to lack of elevators.

  61. My apologies if someone has already mentioned it but this sign is clearly for sentient strollers, luggage, wheelchairs, etc. that are operating under their own power. I blame Skynet.

  62. I’ll bet donuts that the “unattended children” part is because of all the kids who want to do nothing so much as run up and down escalators while bored waiting for their parents. (Running up the down escalator is particularly fun….says the girl who travelled with her parents a lot in the 70s before these signs went up.)

  63. Jenny – First time replier, long time reader!! Love your new book, literally the only audiobook I have EVER pre-ordered. I’ve got 2 hours left, so don’t ruin the ending if you reply.

    That sign is there for one reason, and one reason only: so that I can argue with my husband.

    My husband is a wheelchair user (and has been for almost 30 years). He has crazy strong upper body strength, and somewhat routinely goes down stairs backwards while holding on to hand rails. If we’re at a friends place and there are stairs involved, he’s gonna go down those stairs backwards and solo as long as there are handrails. And it will scare the shit out of anyone watching for the first time. I don’t even flinch. I just shrug and say, “oh he’s got this, don’t worry, thanks again for the cocktails.” I have also seen him ride UP or DOWN an escalator while holding on to the hand rails (his wheelchair wheels remain stationary in that situation). It is quite literally the most frightening thing I have ever fucking seen. (and I recently watched my 3 year old daughter go downhill on her father’s lap with him in a wheelie at about 700 miles an hour). That shit is scary. I have basically forbidden it in my presence because I can’t bear to watch and am convinced he will end up like that lady in the scary YouTube video, which I also refuse to watch again.

    That sign is up for people’s safety. People like my husband who are like “fuck you, transportation authority. I am NOT going 2 miles around to the accessible elevator. I’m going to grab on to those moving handrails roll my wheels on a crazy scary steel stair and magically float up or down as I please. Fuck you and your inaccessibility. I’m grown and I do what I want.” That sign is there so that I can point to it and say, “see, you are NOT supposed to ride the fucking escalators, it’s fucking scary and you will die.” It’s also probably about liability too, since then the people who put up the sign can sign “we told him not to, so he can’t sue us.” Which other people have probably posted about, but I was too lazy to read through all the comments above mine.

    So, though I have seen escalator ridden safely by wheelchair users and I’ve heard stories of paraplegics driving cars with a cane (NOT my husband), I’m glad that the transportation authority have gotten very inclusive in their signage and put up rules that travelers will wantonly ignore. I can imagine my husband saying “I’ll start following that rule when other motherfuckers start following the “no strollers” or “no luggage” rule, until then even us disabled people have the right to ignore the fucking rules.” Only he would say it with way less cursing.

    (I fucking love you and your husband. ~ Jenny)

  64. Some people shouldn’t be allowed off a leash. It’s as bad as the ‘May contain nuts’ warnings on packet of nuts.

  65. Look, if there’s a warning, it’s because someone did it. With this in mind, any visit to the USA will be much more amusing.

  66. this summer I broke my ankle and used a knee scooter. Went to a different amtrak station than the one I usually use to get into the city for work, they were doing elevator repairs and told me to take the escalator. so I applaud the airport for not being idiots in that way, anyway.

  67. unfortunately I think it’s the stupid children that get left unattendent are probably the reason for the sign.

  68. Greetings Jenny, and a warm welcome to Toronto from MHPSO (Mental Health Peer Support Organization)! You might not have time to read this before the Toronto reading at Indigo tomorrow night, yet if you have a few minutes we’d love to come over and say hello. Ten people from MHPSO will be attending your reading, and while our incredible founder is unable to join us, some other lovely folks will be in attendance. Here is a link to our (still under construction) website:

    We’re a group, yet all of our group postings are private to protect our members. MHPSO is an extremely well-run and incredibly powerful little group, and we’re affiliated with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO). We’re in the process of applying for charitable status, and we’re still learning the ropes of fundraising and promotion.

    Hoping that you have a safe and wonderful journey to Canada, and we hope to see you tomorrow night!


    Klaudia, Kourosh, Helena, Joeddi, Mark, Kristine, Eric, Anita, Brendan and Gail

    P.S. This is a link to our page, for what it’s worth:

  69. I wish I could be there like with Lets Pretend This Never Happened damn! I have a sticker though for Furiously happy. Someone asked if it’s photo copied :(. I said you’d never lie to us like that!

    Have a great time at the reading and signing so there in spirit for sure!! Hope they found you a nice room if you aren’t flying out tonight! Take gentle kind care of yourself you mean the word to lots of us you rock the blog world and the book world now yay!

  70. Or the “Warning: Coffee Served Hot” notice at McDonald’s like, twenty years after that RIDICULOUS court case. Or has it been thirty years? Yikes!

  71. As I know EXACTLY where you took that pic, I have to say that it has probably happened, since the elevator is quite hard to find, and is more than unreliable. It has been known to take you to your requested floor, NOT stop or open, and then take you back to your starting point. That is if it is working, which is rare. Just be glad the escalators were working. Also rare.

  72. I work for a state agency that assists people with spinal cord injuries and disabilities. While we were at a conference in New Orleans, I can proudly state that I saw a young lady in a manual wheelchair prop herself on an escalator and rode that motherfucker down BACKWARDS (wheelchairs have anti-tippers and these helped in this cirque du holy shit scenario). I was like “I don’t think I could even STAND on an escalator and ride it down backwards without vomiting.” But you know, as always, where there’s a will there’s a way. Ask me about my clients that zoom down the highway in power wheelchairs #truestory

  73. Umm… That would be me. And my sister. She’s mostly at fault. I was only a passenger and she, with total and utter abandon, hoisted me right onto the escalator (the up escalator thankfully). We were chasing my mother. And by chasing I mean CHASING! She was running for her life hoping that some space/time warp would enact itself and suddenly make her a childless woman. Of course, the more she ran, the louder and more embarrassing we became. We think she’s at fault for that. Yeah…pretty much her fault.

  74. Took my sister up and down escalators in her wheelchair all the time when we were teenagers. Half the fun was how freaked out it made the people who saw us.

  75. My ex boyfriend is in a wheelchair and he qould always try to go down escalators, mostly when he was drunk. I would yell at him to go to the elevator but he would just roll onto to the escalator and hold on to the railings and lean back a little. Everything would fall out of his pockets and I would have to try and pick everything up before people stepped on me. I was always scared he would fall out of his chair amd roll all the way down, but it never happened.

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