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Conversation With a Beaver Stadium Escalator

by on December 08, 2015 6:00 AM
University Park, PA

A little over two weeks ago I took my time leaving after the conclusion of the Penn State football game at Beaver Stadium.

The ramp on the southwest corner always gets backed up so there was no need to hurry.

I sat, listened to the alma mater, enjoyed the fresh air from the upper deck in the south end zone, celebrated the seniors, and then slowly wandered out.

Halfway down the ramp the mid-level platform was vacant so I did something I had always wanted to do – I walked over and had a conversation with the escalator. I’ve transcribed it as closely as I can recall.


John Hook: Hi, how are you? Mind if we talk for a bit?

Escalator: How am I?! How you doin’? Sure, sit down, the concrete’s cold, we’ll talk.


JH: You have an “east-coast” accent?

E: Duh. You got that right Einstein. Born in Yonkers and bred in Harrison, New Jersey. OK, maybe we ain’t bred in Harrison no more, but that’s our history. We keep the faith. They play soccer there now. Serie A it ain’t.


JH: You said we?

E: Yeah, we. All us Otis escalators. Including the three of us here. I’m Joey, Vinny is below me, and Izzy, she’s over there. She deals only with the hoity-toity folks. High-class schlubs. Gotta have a special ticket. Vinny and me, we take anyone. You’re here, we’ll take you.


JH: I ride you every game.

E: You got that right. You and 10,000 of your closest friends on Vinny and I. Straight to the moon. Not now though, after the game, it’s no go. We bring you up but we can’t take you down.


JH: Why is that?

E: Got me. We got a switch. Right there under the rail. Push the button, we stop. Open the lid, flip the switch, bada-bing, bada-boom, we’re going the other way. We don’t get it. All our buddies, they go up and down. Us, up is it. That’s all she wrote.


JH: Seems like a waste of talent.

E: Waddya gonna do? Back before we came out here some of the old guys from Penn Station would come back in for repairs every now and again and tell us stories of how they were getting stopped all the time by commuters who wanted to go down when they were going up. Fake a fall, push the button, walk down the steps. Nobody around here tries that stuff. Nice folks.


JH: Central Pennsylvania people.

E: Seriously. What’s up with that? Always with the nice-nice. Anyway, when Vinny and Izzy and I was being built, since there was three of us – an odd number – we thought we might be replacements for some of the old guard in Penn Station. That and we was only one level tall.


JH: Then you found yourself here?

E: Yeah, who knew?! At first we thought we was destined for an indoor mall – those are big uses for our size. Or maybe one of those nice outdoor parking garages in Florida. No way did we think football stadium. All the stadium guys – and dolls – are a lot longer. Then we get installed in the summer of 2001, we’re outside, going, sure, fresh air, nice sunsets, this will work. Then six months later we’re freezing our patooties off. What a wake-up call.


JH: You say the stadium guys are longer?

E: Almost all of them. You know, they easily go up two, three levels. Heck, the big-time guys are going up fifty feet or more. We’re just one level. Like I said, we was surprised. When Vinny and I were getting installed we’re thinking, hey folks, you know they make us long enough that you don’t need two? Am I right?! But here we are. People go up Vinny, get off, turn around, get right on me. Shoot they could have made Izzy long enough to get where she goes right from ground level, but, hey, they got an architecture school here, they must know what they’se doin’.


JH: It’s still a good gig though, yes?

E: Hey, what can I tell you. We work six, seven times a year tops. Sure they test us, they got that UCC paperwork and all them there compliance issues and whatnot. They run us every now and again, but for volume, you know, boatloads of people, yeah, six, seven times a year. We look forward to it. Folks is all happy when they go up. Maybe had a few beverages, you know. Sometimes not so much happy on the way down, but, you know, they can’t ride us going down, so, we don’t see it. The ramp over there though, he gets a workout after the game. Backed up like a son of a gun. Like a cheap toilet in the Alexander Hamilton rest area. Like I said, we got switches. We can move folks. We’re happy to help with the load. But, no go.


JH: Well, you are bit of a celebrity around here – being one of only two escalator installations in the entire county.

E: So we hear. We don’t know the boys or gals at the furniture store. Hopefully they’re Otis. One of us and not Schindlers. We got a problem with Schindlers. Goes way back. It’s a Jersey thing. Don’t ask.


JH: Hey it was great talking. You’ll be here next year?

E: Sure. I hear talk of maybe fixing up more of the digs in the stadium. Who knows, maybe they add a bunch of us. We’re good folk too, us Otis’s. I see some of the people looking a little older around here. Walking all that way up to their seats, it’s not good for the heart. Just sayin’. You got it. See you in ten months, give or take. Ciao.  

John Hook is the president of The Hook Group, a local management consulting firm, and active in several nonprofit organizations. Previously John spent 25 years in executive, management and marketing positions with regional and national firms. John lives in Ferguson Township with his wife Jackie and their two children.
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