The Domino Effect

How much attention do you pay to the safety warnings at the beginning of a flight? I thought so.

The first time you fly, you pay close attention to every word. If you are a regular airline passenger you might glance at the card in the seat pocket to see what type of aircraft you are on, then ignore the rest.

After all, how likely is it that something bad is going to happen? And if it does, will you really be able to do anything about it?

When I was in London last week I heard a  safety message I hadn’t heard before, or maybe I had just tuned it out. In the Underground stations near bus and train connections there were frequent warnings about luggage.

Not the ones you hear at airports about not having your bags unattended. An admonition to hold on to your bags when you are on the escalator. Keep a firm grip, or else.

Out of the corner of my eye one day, I saw the or else. It was rush hour and I was on the down escalator. Someone on the up escalator had let go of their suitcase. A big suitcase.

I had never thought of it before, but losing control of a heavy suitcase on a crowded escalator can have a big impact on those behind you. Especially if they too have suitcases.

I heard the scream as I saw the first person go down. Then another. And another. I’m not sure how many in all. Looked like at least half a dozen.

It was as if people were being knocked over by a. bowling ball. Or a line of dominos falling, each one knocking the next one over.

After a few seconds someone at the bottom of the escalator hit the emergency stop button.

I’m not sure what happened next. by that point, I was at the bottom of the down escalator. Buit I decided not to get involved. I don’t have first aid training, so I wasn’t able to offer assistance if anyone was injured. I figured someone with a local phone could call for emergency services if necessary.

And I certainly wasn’t going to take pictures, though probably some people did. Human nature is like that. So I went on my way. I looked later to see if the incident had made the news, but didn’t see it, so maybe the injuries weren’t that severe. Though there were other stories of similar incident – some with video.

The next day, when it was time to go to the airport, I kept a firm grip on my bag when I was again on the escalator. Even if it was just a carry-on.


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