They look simple, but they're governed by universal rules of etiquette.
The rules exist to keep the flow of human traffic moving at a steady pace, so people can get where they need to go.
The rules, when ignored through selfishness or idiocy, cause headaches and frustration.
Some Hong Kongers are a dense lot (yes, both Chinese and foreigners — all groups have their share of morons); this instruction list is aimed at them.
The rest of us can point our fingers and laugh.
This applies to escalators city-wide. If you wish to remain stationary, the right side is where you belong.
Not in the middle*.
Not on the left.
This includes your shopping bag(s), too. Forget about taking a cart — or worse, a stroller, complete with infant.
It's obvious, yet despite instruction signs, some folks insist on standing wherever they like. Hong Kong is a fast-paced city: some people are either in a hurry or can't stand waiting. The left side of the escalator is their lane.
Think of it as a multi-lane highway: the fast lane is not the place to drive 30 km/h. When you block the left side, you create a traffic jam.
It's bad enough when one person does it, but when you and your friend (or group of friends, students) stand there gabbing on the same step, you're impeding progress. Shut your pie-holes and move to the right.
Moving sidewalks, however, are another matter. The point of these contraptions is to speed pedestrians through long, flat passageways by augmenting walking speed. In case you haven't noticed, standing still defeats the purpose.
The elderly and the infirm are welcome to remain still, as long as they stand on the right. Everyone else who stops is just lazy. Any able-bodied person who stops and stands on the left ought to have a cattle prod inserted in his nether regions.
* Note: Some safety gurus insist the center of the step is correct. Not in Hong Kong, buster.
Want to know why?
Simple: should the escalator come to sudden halt — and they do now and again — anyone not holding the rail is going to pitch forward and do a face-plant on a metal step.
If the escalator is full, those not testing step density with their faces will create a human domino chain.
Up or down, those not rearranging their dental work also risk limb injuries.
Remember: you're riding on six tons of moving machinery. Machinery can fail.
Disrespect this maxim at your peril.
This quirk of behaviour baffles me.
Some people must be suffering from congenital stupidity, because no other explanation makes sense for why they reach the beginning or end of the escalator (or moving sidewalk) and stop dead in their tracks.
It's not confusion. It's not forgetfulness. It's feeble-mindedness.
I'm not talking about some poor soul afflicted with Alzheimer's or senility; I'm talking about ordinary people too thick to realise other people are behind them.
At the entrance, stopping is an annoyance. At the exit, it's problematic.
Unless you want folks to shove you out of the way or play leap-frog off your back, do us all a favour and make a hole, you societal blood-clot.
This applies to Mr. Vacillator, as well. Either use the escalator or steer clear of it ... but make a decision.
This pertains to pairs of escalators moving in opposite directions.
Second in idiocy to stoppers are corner-cutters. These are people who, when wanting to enter or exit, make a 90-degree turn and cut across the entrance or exit of the other escalator.
Instead of taking a few steps and making a button-hook to head the other way — thereby clearing a path for others wishing to use the escalator — these selfish twits disregard good manners.
If you do this, I urge you to change your errant ways before someone snaps and bludgeons you with the first solid object within reach.
Should you know anyone in breach of these rules of etiquette, kindly refer them to this section.
Assuming they can read, that is.