I've managed to keep it a secret for many years, but a couple weeks ago I was forced to reveal a phobia I've held onto since childhood. After 15 years together, I finally admitted to my husband my deep and abounding fear . . . of escalators.
Don't judge me. Can't you see the evil emanating from escalators with their mechanized movement and unnaturally quick and effort free ability to move from floor to floor? I'll show you pictorial proof.
Can't you see it now?
I'm pretty sure the whole thing started from the horror stories my parents told me a child. "If you wait 1/4 second too long to step off, the escalator will suck you down and eat your leg, then you will be sent directly to hell where you will be forced to balance on erratically height shifting surfaces for the rest of eternity" * At least I think that is what they taught me; I'm sure my mind didn't escalate the warning over time.
But really, someone coordinationally challenged like myself has a lot to fear from that moving staircase of terror. Step on the line and suddenly you're stuck with only half a footing. Let's be honest, I struggle to keep balance with all of a footing on a stationary stairway. I mean I have never on my life been able to catch the timing of double dutch ropes and I'm expected to step with both feet between two evenly spaced lines?
As a grown up I've learned to live with my eccentric fears, I ride escalators all the time with only a momentary pause to gather my strength, double check the speed of the escalator, take a deep breath, and take the leap of faith. My stomach only slightly lurches every time that flat pathway pops up into stairs beneath my feat. After years of practice, I can now step off at the end with only a slight exaggeration.
Watching my kids ride sans my help, however, has intensified my deepest escalator related fears. Lately, for some odd reason, my 13 and 12-year-olds have decided they don't want to hold my hand on the mall escalator. Who am I kidding? Even my 3-year-old insists he doesn't need my help. As I call out to remember to step off before the belt attempts to eat their toes, they often pretend I'm some crazy stranger.
They are going to give me a heart attack, stepping on those things without so much as "one, two, three, STEP."
By the way, my husband found this heartfelt confession hilarious. Complete with chuckle and eye roll. He found it nearly as funny as when I told him I'm afraid of getting prostate cancer or looking like a tourist (while touring someplace on vacation) or that I fear a serial killer might one day sneak in, wait in our closet, then kill us while we're sleeping.
Strangely enough he's scared of having cold water dumped on him in the middle of a shower. Of course, his fears are grounded in reality...
*Technically as a child I remember hearing about a man at the store where my father worked did have his legs amputated (or were they crushed?) while fixing an escalator. Or something like that. So my parents did tell me some form of terror story about escalators.