Yesterday morning during rush hour, New Yorkers in Times Square subway station panicked when svelte middle-aged Brooklynite Bernice Shaw walked up the entire 20-plus steps of a fully functioning escalator. Many (literal) bystanders immediately used their mobile phones to call 911 and local law enforcement, only to learn - to their immense surprise - that walking up a moving escalator is not actually prohibited in New York City.
"I thought that was jaywalking," said 26-year-old Kaleen O'Donnell, an employee of FAO Schwartz in Midtown, Manhattan. "Isn't that illegal?"
"It oughtta be," put in O'Donnell's life partner, Kristen Hayes, a cashier at the nearby Dunkin' Donuts on 7th Avenue. "It's certainly not safe. Or sane. Why move unless you absolutely have to?"
O'Donnell and Hayes were not the only ones taken aback at Bernice Shaw's seemingly preposterous of act of unnecessary motion.
"It wasn't very considerate of her, since she had to kind of push past me on the left in order to get by," noted personal injury attorney Ken Friedman, whose ample girth causes him to take up a full two-thirds of the width of a standard escalator step.
"And I'm certainly not the only one with a BMI over 35," Friedman pointed out. "Safety's a real issue when people actually start moving. Fat people could get hurt."
Self-styled environmentalist Debra Wakefield succinctly summed up her thoughts on Bernice Shaw's outrageous act of gratuitous motion: "Hello! Energy conservation, anyone?"
Despite the clear weight - literally and figuratively - of public opinion against her, Bernice Shaw made no apologies for her walking behavior.
"Back in the day, people used to do it all the time," she asserted. "And if they want to arrest me for doing it now, they can go ahead and try. But since it would mean they'd actually have to break into motion themselves in order to catch up with me, I'm fairly confident that won't happen."
She added wryly, "In other words, even if it were within their rights to stop me from walking on an escalator, no one would exercise that right if it meant they actually had to exercise!"
At the end of the day, none of Shaw's fellow escalator travelers could refute this analysis.
Which means, of course, that Bernice Shaw will be walking on...