Escalator Earworm


Ordinarily, in the insane clang, roar, jangle and bustle that pervades urban Japan I might not notice. I’d be too absorbed looking for signs, checking my direction and verifying platform numbers. Or I’d be gob-smacked by some splendid design or compelling display, and it wouldn’t register. However, this day I’m worn out by an extra-long walk. As it’s sunny and warm I choose to rest on the station platform while waiting for my train. There I enjoy cooling breezes. Much nicer than resting in a subterranean station coffee shop.

That’s when I hear the escalator earworm: an endless loop of dulcet warnings.

It’s one of the newer escalators which stops to conserve power until someone steps on it. Then a chirpy cautionary voice in its sing-song style begins as the escalator starts up. Strangely enough, the one going down does the same. The result is a crazy duet, one a near echo of the other. JR’s Toccata and Fugue in Escarata Minor.

I can’t decide whether it’s better or worse than the one at Tokyo SkyTree which treats visitors to the jingle “Just sit tight and just feel right” all day like a trance-inducing Pentecostal chorus on steroids. That one I noticed because I spent several minutes trying to get a photo before taking it skyward.

What sinister mind decided that both escalators must play the same warning out of sync? Any good sense it might convey is lost in the mad cacophonous loop.

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