The manager was finally able to turn it off just as his sleeve was turning the curve at the top of the second floor. He barely escaped being sucked in. Those are the kind of screams you never forget.
So. Escalators. They make me really nervous. I carefully avoided telling that story in front of Katarina when she was little, and I made myself ride on them so she wouldn't pick up my fear, but my feelings about escalators never really lessened.
I still feel nervous every time I step on one.
We went to the mall to look for a dress for Katarina to wear to a wedding. My mom and Lee had both sent links to cute dresses online, but I was determined to go to a store so she could try on dresses. How do you buy clothes without trying them on first?
At JC Penney, the escalator was broken. It's been broken the last few times we've been there, with yellow tape and construction signs all around. Seeing the inside of the escalator doesn't make me any less nervous about it.
I didn't really mind walking to the far off corner to use the elevator. Up and back down we went. They didn't have the right dress.
Next stop was Sears. Their escalator appeared to be broken. It wasn't moving, and everyone was just walking up it like normal stairs. I didn't love that idea, but at least it wasn't going to suck me in if it wasn't moving, right? Katarina skipped right up to the first step. Apparently it is an adventure to walk up an escalator.
We walked up, and then back down. The perfect dress was not to be found.
We made our way toward the Old Navy. Our Old Navy has a very steep escalator right in the middle of the store, and, of course, the kids section is upstairs. As we approached the escalator, I noticed two employees standing by the entrance talking.
"Excuse me," I said, preparing to squeeze by so I could get to the escalator, and then I realized it wasn't moving. Another broken escalator, I thought, taking a deep breath and preparing to step on the first step.
"Oh, you don't want to use the escalator. That's why we are standing here. See that guy up there? He's working on it - it could start moving at any second, and you could get hurt."
I looked up and saw a man pulling a panel off, and making adjustments.
"You can use the elevator. It's in the back."
I breathed a sigh of relief as we headed to the dark corner in the back of the store.
It only took a second after we pushed the button for the oversized doors to open. We stepped into the elevator. I ignored the grinding sound the elevator had made, and Katarina pressed the number 2.
As soon as the door closed, a voice spoke over the elevator speaker. "All clear? Is the elevator clear?"
"No!" I called out, looking wildly around to figure out where the speaker was to see if I needed to push a button so the voice would hear me, "It isn't clear! We are riding in it right now! There are people in this elevator!"
"Damn. Let me know when you reach the second floor, and then get out immediately when the doors open."
I've never left an elevator so fast in my life.
We looked at dresses. Used the water fountain. Looked at cute baby clothes. Walked around upstairs much longer than necessary. Stopped by the water fountain a second time. Finally I had to face it. There was nothing more to do in the Old Navy. Unless I was planning on camping out, we would need to go back down to the first floor.
I wasn't stepping foot back in that elevator, and neither was Katarina, so we headed toward the escalator. She assured me that the down escalator had been working earlier.
I stared at my foe. It was moving. Then I heard the workman call down the escalator on the up side, asking one of the employees standing below if they would like to test it out. Neither of them seemed very excited.
"Come on, Mom, we still need to find a dress." Katarina said, taking my had and leading me closer to the escalator. I looked at the short glass wall surrounding the escalator opening, and quickly calculated just how dangerous it would be to tie a bunch of baby clothes together to make a rope and climb down to the ground floor. My chances of surviving seemed dubious - but not much more so than my chances with the escalator.
I took a deep breath and put my foot onto that moving, rubber step.
We made it to the bottom, and left the mall.
We went straight home. Sitting safely on the ground floor, without any bloodthirsty escalators or scary disembodied elevator voices to stop us, we bought a dress online.
It arrived three days later, and the mail carrier didn't even try to kill me when he handed me the package.
I'll be doing all of my shopping online from now on. Leaving the house is overrated.