The National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to development, education, and care of children and youth during their out of school hours.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I recently saw a new term, escalefter, on a subway message board. If you've ever stepped on a moving walkway in an airport terminal or ridden an escalator at the mall, you've likely encountered one. They are those individuals that choose to nonchalantly stand on the left side of the walkway or escalator completely oblivious to any warning announcements and fully blocking the forward movement of those with a more determined destination. They seem unaware of the hustle and bustle around them or the inconveniences they are creating for others.  But, of course, we've all probably encountered some that know exactly what they are doing and continue do it deliberately, anyway.

I think there are three kinds of people using escalators and moving walkways. Those who are (1) too lazy to walk and instead choose the entitlement of a free ride, (2) those with drive, ambition, and vision who know where they want to go, and (3) the escalefters. Of course, an argument can be made for a fourth type - those independents that choose to walk and arrive at their destination on their own terms and at their own speed.

Which are you? I think these same types of people exist in every workplace - even the afterschool field. We all know there are some people who are simply lazy and saunter through life. They just ride along. Quite the opposite are those with vision and determination to get things done. They see the escalator as a means to go faster, do more, and save time. Escalators were made with this group in mind. Then there are the escalefters who block the progress of others, knowingly or not.

What about the fourth group?  Some of them are loners who choose to avoid the fast pace and do their own thing. Some are afraid. Others choose walking for their health rather than riding (don't they know they can walk even faster on a moving walkway?). And then there are those few who are so lost that they can’t even find the entrance to the escalator.

Escalators and moving walkways were designed to facilitate the movement and lifting masses of people toward their different destinations. Likewise, we create many paths and structures in our workplaces that do essentially the same things. And everywhere these same types of people exist -  loafers, movers, shakers, and blockers.

Let's not inhibit, or escaleft, those with vision who want to move our profession to a higher level even though there may be differing destinations. If they err, they'll redirect. They'll move to another walkway or change direction. But they'll still be moving forward. And they'll still be much farther ahead of those who just ride along.

Let’s work to convince escalefters to get with the flow or stand to the right.  They might get run over if they don't.

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