We were at some mall. It might have been Independence Mall in Independence MO, but it might have been somewhere else. We were in fourth or fifth grade I think, meaning we were nine or 10 years old. There were escalators.

We were on a school field trip. We attended Blackwater R-II Elementary in Blackwater MO. Blackwater MO still has less than 300 people. Even the townies, who we country kids sometimes called “city slickers,” lived in a town they could walk across without too much trouble, even on a hot day.

The K-8 (Kindergarten through Eighth Grade, about 13 years old) school is still operating as it was then. Our class, admittedly one of the smaller ones, had 10 kids in it by the time we left for separate high schools.

Many of us had seen escalators before, not in Blackwater, but elsewhere, on clothes buying trips, or visits to relatives in cities, or the odd vacation. But one girl in the class got excited about them that day and she kept riding up and then back down. The teachers had to pull her (okay, and the rest of us who followed along with her) away from them so we could leave the mall.

She was a little eager but I know where she was coming from. Escalators are cool. They are stairs that move and you often find them in places that sell stuff or where you get on the airplane. There’s still that bit of big city sophistication to them, even though they’re to be found in my medium sized uni town.

There’s that little bit of danger there too. Moving stairs say “you could get on me and go up or down, or horizontal but faster (if you’re on an even cooler “people mover”) like always, or you could get pulled into these relentless metal jaws and die screaming as horrified shoppers watched helplessly.

It’s a trick to look cool getting on and off the escalator. I like to think I handle myself pretty well on them, like I know what I’m doing, like I’ve been nonchalantly riding moving stairs all my life. To make escalatin’ look good one must move effortlessly, without thought, like some European movie businessman or chic model, like an escalator.