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Here in the District, like many other cities, we have our own set of unspoken rules. Among them, there is one that extends to the common courtesy we should all exercise while using the D.C. metro. The only way in and out of the underground transit system are by escalators. As such, we all strive to recognize a common rule: stand on the right, walk on the left. With delays, single tracking, and over-crowding, the metro can be a painfully slow experience on its own. We beg you, please, grant us the courtesy of at least leaving the left lane open for ambitious travelers to walk up and down the escalators at their own pace.

Alas, for every rule made, there will always be people to break them. And in this case, there’s always that one person who decides that it would be a good decision to do the exact opposite of everyone else around them and ignore the standards firmly established by our metro-riding forefathers. The crime is simple: to stand on the left side of the escalator, thus hindering us other travelers from getting on with our daily commute at the rapid pace we are accustomed. This, my friends, is called “escalefting“.

Escalefting is when someone stands on the left side of the escalator, rather than walking up or down the escalator. The art of escalefting is one that never ceases to amaze us. The number of trains missed due to escalefters is horrifyingly high and this tragic epidemic must be stopped. The story usually goes like this:

You get off of the red line to catch a transfer train to the blue line. You run from red line platform when you hear the train pull up by the blue line platform. You continue mad dash to blue line platform, but are SUDDENLY stopped by a group of escalefters. You shout “EXCUSE ME,” and lightly push past those who have decided to stand on the left side that day. You finally make it down the escalator only to find your train traveling off into the dark distance, leaving you and your hopes of being on time behind. The end.


I understand that if you’re a tourist or new to D.C., you’re still learning the workings of our metro system. I was once an escalefter myself when I first moved here three years ago. As a recovering escalefter, I understand your confusion. If you stand on the left once or twice, it’s not the end of the world. However, there is always that one person who gets a good kick out of being blatantly inconsiderate. You say, “excuse me” a numerous amount of times, only to be met with glares because you are seemingly in a rush.

So to that one person out there who ruins it for everyone, please stand on the proper side. Even if you find it hysterical to see others like myself flustered and breathless when trying to catch a train, please give me the satisfaction of at least knowing that I tried to be on time (even if I will inevitably end up missing my train due to a lack of physical stamina).

And for those of you out there who are still confused, don’t make it harder than it is. Walk on the left, stand on the right. You’ll look like a local in no time.