After taking our weekend visitors Jeff and Mark to O’Hare for their flight back to Raleigh-Durham, I decided to take some time to go on one of my little urban adventures in the city. I decided to head out to the western neighborhoods, and I began my journey on the Red Line so I could transfer to the Blue Line and head out to the Northwest. That’s how the Loop-oriented CTA lines work in Chicago.

As I made my transfer from the Red Line to the Blue Line at Lake, I followed the trail of folks with luggage looking to make the transfer so they could head to O’Hare. In the CTA stations there are plenty of posters and other reminders to “walk left, stand right” on the escalators, and during the week daily commuters do an excellent job at observing this rule. It’s rare to see someone clog up the escalator.

On the weekend it’s a completely different story.

A young woman was standing next to her luggage on the escalator, staring at her phone, clogging up the folks trying to pass on the left. Just as I was perfecting my glare (along with others), the escalator came to a abrupt halt.

Not a big deal. For the uniformed, when an escalator comes to a stop, it simply becomes a staircase. The escalator stops, so you walk up the stairs and you easily reach your destination. It’s not a difficult concept.

Except below me on the escalator some woman started screaming as if the station had been plunged into darkness, a portal to Hades had opened, and the compartment was being filled with some sort of noxious gas. (I promise I wasn’t “crop dusting” the escalator on my way up).

Bewildered by this screaming, other patrons on the now stopped escalator took this as some sort of wailing cue and started hustling up the escalator rapidly.

I believe my response to all of this was, “Settle down, Loretta”. I then proceeded up the escalator in a calm fashion, threading my way around the woman blocking the path because she hadn’t figured out what was happening yet, and I made my way to the Blue Line.

People need to calm down.