by Tim Braun
You’re going to get to the end of this blog/article/story and say to yourself “Did I just really read an entire story about that?” And you know what the answer is going to be? Yes. Because this is a subject that needs to be put out in the open. No longer shall it hide in the deepest darkest depths of my cobweb-laden cortex. I’m putting it into yours.
Steps. Stairs. The British (who have a different word for everything apparently) call them risers. The ancient Greeks called them “Stairs” but said it in ancient Greek. Whatever you want to call them – they are a remarkable invention by some ancient caveman named Ugh who was tired of walking up a hill. He actually invented an item where even the laziest caveman could now get up even the largest mountain. Our friendly Neanderthal brethren even invented places to rest while you walk up the stairs – called ‘landings’. Brilliant.
Yep – this whole blog is going to be about stairs. Here at my office we are in a 6-story building. Therefore, using simple calculations it’s easy to see that we have six flights of stairs. I can show you my calculations on that if you wish. My brilliantly well-lit cubicle is on the 5th floor – thereby necessitating the removal of one flight of stairs from my aforementioned equation. So every morning I face the same decision: Take the lazy man’s way – the elevator – up five floors. Or hike up the 92 stairs (yes, I counted) to the fifth floor – thereby promoting exercise, cardio health and a slim chance of a brain aneurysm. I have to admit that I probably select the elevator 60% of the time, mainly because of the fear of the previously mentioned aneurysm. But that other 40% of the time – it’s PURE ADRENALINE. Here’s my typical walk up the stairs:
OK today I’m going to be heart-healthy and take the stairs, plus that smelly guy is getting on the elevator and I’d kinda rather not be on the elevator with him (editor’s note of honesty: this is ALWAYS the reason I would take the stairs – exercise doesn’t enter into the equation) Open the stairwell door, what IS that smell in here? Start up flight one of two per floor – this isn’t so bad, I don’t know why I don’t do it every day – but I wonder why the handrail is so sticky. Landing 1. Quick turn – I bet people are so impressed that I take the stairs – hitting the 2nd floor and quick pivot up to the next flight. I’m a bit of a rock in the fitness category. Hmmm. My knees are starting to hurt a little bit – I blame my dad for my bad knees. Landing – quick pivot – wow, the knees are really starting to burn – kind of like a little utility knife is slicing every single tendon. 3rd Floor. Made it. Holy crap – I’m only halfway up. Alright, let’s move, up the next set….starting to get a little winded now. Who am I kidding, my heart is beating out of my exploding chest. Struggle up to the next landing. Rest. Try to get my heart rate below 10,000. Try to let my knees subside in their screaming agony. One more slow pivot and I’m on my way to up to the 4th floor. Get to the 4th floor. Have a brilliant idea that it would only be HALF the steps now if I take two steps at a time on my way to the 5th floor. Try this. Hate myself for trying this. Make it to the final landing for the final run to the top of the Matterhorn. I sit and wait at this landing to catch my breath and hope no one comes by so that I don’t have to burst out on to the 5th floor stairwell heaving and moaning and panting and needing life support. Suppress my need for vomiting and finish the climb up 92 stairs and get out of the stairwell. Suddenly walking on straight carpet and it feels like a willowy, billowy dream.
I’d like to say that this only happens the first few times I took the stairs, but honestly it’s EVERY SINGLE TIME. There is no ‘more in shape’. There’s only ‘closer to dying’. So I’ve taken to always taking the stairs DOWN, but not so much up. In my own skewed mind I’m still using 92 steps so I get the same exercise whether I’m going up or down. I can justify just about anything in my head.
Yesterday I took the stairs up – and came upon this grisly scene on the last run before the 5th floor. Obviously other people have the same issues as I walking (or crawling) up these steps:
I can only surmise that these drops were NOT coffee or soup or some other fanciful beverage of choice, they are indeed the remnants of a brain aneurysm that occurred NOT TOO LONG PRIOR TO MY ARRIVING by someone attempting so-called ‘exercise’. There was nobody around (or I may have had to step over the body) but there is no doubt in my mind that I was looking upon the very face of death. Some brave, intrepid explorer before me had shed his or her last bit of energy getting up to this floor and I only hoped that he/she had made it. I didn’t even turn to look at the stairs up to the 6th floor. There would have been nothing I could have done for this hearty soul anyway – as I was nearing aneurysm level 10 also.
Finally, is there a courtesy for SROW (stairs right-of-way)? I kind of always think people coming UP the stairs should have the SROW. They are the ones dying – the people flying down the stairs just are traipsing down them willy-nilly and can stop on a dime. This comes up often in our rather narrow staircase, especially when we are also carrying a computer. However, just like in real life, most of the small microcosm of stair-users (SMoSU) don’t seem to recognize the fact. I’ve narrowly avoided being pummeled to the ground in my aneurysm level 10 state by a rogue youngster with a computer. These things need to taught by the parents. These kids probably watched some lawless video game where stair use was allowed to run roughshod. This isn’t that video game kids. This is real life.
And don’t even get me started on the people that take the elevator up (or even worse DOWN) one single, solitary floor. Ugh.
Congratulations. You did it. You read a whole article about stairs. I hope you learned something and will be kind the next time you see a middle-aged guy trying to act like he’s not having an aneurysm climbing up the stairs. Just smile and say “This is a really well-lit stairway, eh?”