I remember my Hong Kong trip a couple of years ago. It was my first out-of-the country experience. I felt excited and ignorant at the same time. I was in awe of their efficient railway systems, of how there was a Giordano at almost every corner of the city, and of how delicious their street food were. On our first day, there was a minor incident that happened when we were transferring from one station. I used the escalator, which was pretty normal, but then I noticed some people staring at me. It turned out that I was standing on the wrong side! I hid my embarrassment, and simply shifted my position. I learned that escalator etiquette is being implemented to maintain order and control of human traffic.
It was not easy for me to adapt to the practice, but I managed to appreciate its value. I know that I’m not the only who was glad when SM launched an escalator etiquette campaign a couple of months ago. When I went to Megamall, there were signs all over the place informing people to stand on the right side and walk on the left.
However, I noticed that mall-goers had trouble following the guidelines. I thought of three possible reasons as to why we have a hard time implementing this practice.
1. Lack of information—Mall goers are possibly unaware, might not have seen the signs, or are too busy to read them. Recently, I saw on Facebook that SM management has been more aggressive in the implementation, even getting employees to stand near the escalators to enforce this practice in some of their malls. Escalators were even painted with signs so that mall goers cannot miss them.
2. Personal convenience—“It’s a moving stair.” This is one of the comments that I saw on social media, defending the people who were not following the new rule. After all, escalators were made so that people will just stand on them, right? However, we must also be aware that some people are in a rush. This could be the main reason why escalator etiquette was introduced.
3. “They’re not doing it, so why should I?”—This was one response that I got from asking a friend whom I personally witnessed disobeying the rule. Sometimes, the way we act is based on other people’s actions and reactions. Based on studies, people are most likely to defy a rule when they are with others.
Now, why am I focusing on this campaign? What do I gain from this? Last year, we as a nation were promised ‘change.’ What I realized was that change cannot just come from one person alone. If we want change to happen to our nation, then we must begin with ourselves. If we have trouble following a simple rule, or adhering to etiquette, imagine how we will be when a particular law is implemented? I end with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Mar Andriel Umali is an Assistant Professor of the Financial Management Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He welcomes comments at email@example.com. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.
MAR ANDRIEL S. UMALI