Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thai Education An Escalating Problem

Thai Education An Escalating Problem.

You might think that three years in kindergarten, 12 years in school and four years in university would teach all the basics needed for daily life. If not, then your parents should have helped bridge any missing gaps in your knowledge. Apparently however, neither the education system nor many parents teach children about some important manners. It might sound like a trivial thing, but for a society in which department stores are everyone's second home, escalator etiquette is important.

According to my parents (blame them if I'm wrong, not me), Bangkok's first escalator was installed at the Thai Daimaru Department Store, back when my mother was still a primary school student. It was a big thing at the time and lots of people went there just to try the escalator. Almost 50 years later however, many still aren't even aware that there's such thing as escalator etiquette. You just stand on one step, wait until it goes to the end, and leave. Simple, right?

From my own experience, a lot of problems can occur during that 30 second ride. I can't remember where I learned this, but I've always known that on escalators, you stand on the right and walk on the left. I've also learned that many people don't know or simply don't care about basic escalator etiquette; that couples will stand side by side, blocking two of the escalator's invisible "lanes".

Groups of friends crowd the steps and refuse to break up their cluster, so everyone behind them has to wait.
Another thing, which is more common sense than etiquette, is when you reach the end of the escalator, you don't stop. In real life, however, a lot of people go blank and stand at the end of the escalator, causing a domino effect behind them. As crazy as this sounds, there are actually a lot of "reasons" for people to stand still when the ride on the escalator ends. One example, is when I was going down the escalator at a BTS station and the national anthem began to play. A man in front of me, showing his devoted love for his nation, stood still from the start to the end of the song. Yes, when that song plays, you should stand still, but at the end of a moving, jam-packed escalator?

Some children, left unattended by their parents, also use escalators at department stores as treadmills, running in the opposite direction to the one the escalator is going. This one goes up? Well, I want to go down and see if I can make it to the other side! And of course, along the way, these little sprinters bump into innocent people standing on the narrow, moving steep steps. One push is all it takes for someone to lose balance and fall all the way down.

There are also other basics that everyone should know, such as strollers are not allowed on escalators. My own son almost tumbled out of his once, and that's how I learned.

Don't wear miniskirts if you know you will be using an escalator, because the person behind might not want a sneak preview of your yellowing underwear. Please don't grope your boyfriend/girlfriend because everyone else on the escalator will be forced to either watch you or jump off.

It would be ridiculous for schools to have escalator etiquette courses, considering most don't have an escalator for demonstration. However, since so many children grow up in malls these days, it would be good if their parents would teach them how to use an escalator properly.

That's if the teachers and parents are even aware of escalator etiquette themselves.


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