Women and Children First

Brief Encounters, Tales of Everday Life: Nov. 2012

Europeans build strollers the way Americans build SUVs: Size and features rule the day. Ours even has a cup holder. But these do-dads do nothing when it comes to getting you onto an U-Bahn platform; escalators and stairs are verboten and elevators are a question of politics.

The Stephansplatz U-Bahn station is a story in itself. You’ve got to take not one, but two lifts from platform to street. The first one is normal-sized – three strollers can fit comfortably, four snugly. The second lift (the one to the surface) fits only one. If you find yourself riding up on the first with a fellow stroller-pusher, you know it’ll be a race for the second.

A few weeks ago, I lost the race to a mother who would fit right into the Red Bull Stroller Racing team (I’m sure there is one; they have everything else!). But as we know that in Austria der Klugere gibt nach (the smart don’t pick a fight), my wife and I ceded our place, while a white-haired man wearing a green alpine hat hobbled up beside us. We stepped back to give him the right of way, expecting he’d board the elevator with Ms. Vettel. Instead she carefully boxed herself out of range, giving the man a disingenuous shrug as the doors closed. Very convincing.

So once again, we were bumped back in the pecking order, and let the old man took the next ride up, alone. How else do you make a world you want your baby to grow up in?

 – Nicholas K. Smith


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  1. Pingback: My latest: Stroller racing to the next elevator | Nicholas K. Smith

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