Thursday, September 9, 2010

kindness of strangers

The other day I got my dress stuck in an escalator in Central. I was wearing a long dress, the kind that goes to the floor. It made me feel miles tall, and for some reason there’s some imagined elegance in wearing a floor-length dress… Although there’s probably nothing elegant about cleaning the floor with your clothing as you walk. A public service maybe?

Anyways it was right before the lunch hour rush, and I was trying to sprint shuffle down the escalators – a sandwich in hand, a book in the other. Mid leap, I felt a sharp tug pull me back.

When I turned I saw that the fabric had been caught in the stair. I was absentmindedly tugging at it still eating my sandwich – but it just kept getting more and more consumed by the escalators – until I was at the bottom and the dress was caught up to my knee.
A man behind me was yelling– and before I knew it, he'd sprinted to the bottom and on the floor tugging at my dress. I told him it was fine, but he kept saying it was dangerous – and I giggled as I had this image of myself being dragged and shredded into a smeared, bloody mess into the escalator.

This was then replaced by the more realistic and even more horrifying image, the dress ripping off me and me being left to wander around central without clothing. Then I started panicking too and pulling frantically at it.

Somehow in the midst of it, someone pressed the emergency stop, and the business people in suits were forming a small crowd around the two of us and bickering amongst themselves about what advice to give me. “Just cut it off.. No don’t ruin the dress, call management. I think you can reverse the escalator some way. Just pull at it, it’s not that stuck. Go get some scissors. Who gets stuck in an escalator?”

Eventually the only way I got out was by being cut out of my dress – which the man did handily because (like so many hong kong people) he was carrying nail clippers – massive ones, like industrial size.

By the end, any possibility of imagined elegance was sadly and decisively gone. I was left wandering looking like I'd been mauled by forest animals, but I told the man it looked chic. My students probably thought I was trying to make a statement.

Victory for nail clippers.