90s, Blog, TV — June 23, 2015 12:09 pm

Rescue 911: The Reason I Always Take the Stairs

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Shows like Rescue 911 and Unsolved Mysteries were childhood staples for me, as I’m sure was the case for many of you. They were scary, sometimes freaky. Most telling are the episodes that stayed with you. For me, this was episode 424 of Rescue 911: “Escalator Traps Boy”.


I’m not alone in remembering this 1993 episode, and the events of this episode are something I’ve thought of just about every day of my life. Rescue 911 really fucked people up about escalators.

As host William Shatner explains, on January 20, 1993 in “Calgary, Canada” (it drives me crazy when people say this. You wouldn’t say Miami, America. It’s Calgary, Alberta! Dammit Shatner, you’re Canadian, you know better!) Stephanie Macintosh and her three kids were out shopping. They decided to take the train home that evening. While Stephanie was making a call on a payphone, her four-year-old Michael ran off to play on the escalator, as you do.

I enjoy how they got the real people for the reenactment (or else really, really reasonable facsimiles). I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near an escalator after actually going through that, so mad props to all involved in the reenactment.

I thought re-watching this would give me crazy anxiety, but now I’m just angry. Why didn’t anyone stop the escalator to begin with? You didn’t know where the emergency stop button was? IT’S RIGHT THERE. AND THEN CUT HIS CLOTHES OFF IMMEDIATELY INSTEAD OF TRYING TO YANK HIM OUT.

Oh wow, sorry for the all-caps guys. I’m getting riled up here. I guess they tried their best, with 18 year-old Nathan Grey being first on the scene to help the little guy. And it looks like the kid was fine afterward.

This episode traumatized to the point that, even to this day at 30-something years old, if I can’t avoid taking the escalator, I’ll throw my purse and bags at whomever I’m with and then grab onto the railing with my left hand and their hand with my right. Which can get awkward sometimes but I’m not getting sucked into an escalator. When I get to the bottom of the escalator, I launch myself off about three stairs before it comes to the steel “teeth” at the bottom.

I tried to do a little Internet stalking to see what Michael and Nathan are up to these days, but when you have common names like that it’s difficult to find the right person. That and I’m sure they’d rather not drudge up memories from two decades ago about that time an escalator fucked with them.

Is there’s a more famous Rescue 911 episode? What are your Rescue 911 memories? Are you terrified of escalators? So many questions, so few answers.

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