That Pesky Conveyor Belt

My husband Norm used to say that with each passing day he could better see the end of the conveyor belt.

At first, I wasn’t clear on his analogy until it occurred to me that I had walked, jumped and even hopped off many a conveyor belt or escalator over the years. It’s the end of the ride so to speak and with it always brought a bit of apprehension knowing that timing is everything.

A family story that his sister told was a vivid reminder that one needs to pay attention on the conveyor belt or it could end up very messy. After a wonderful trip together, she, her husband, her sister and brother-in-law were all headed back to their car at the airport long term parking lot. To get there, they had quite a trek that included a very long conveyor belt or people mover. While all of them were only in their early sixties, they decided that the belt would get them to their car faster than walking.

As they approached the end of the belt, her sister turned back for a split second to ask a question. At the same time, one husband had successfully stepped off the belt and started walking. Her sister was next. She lost balance when she turned back around and missed the step off point only to land face down as she rolled the rest of the way off the belt.

What followed was a comic routine that bystanders enjoyed and probably remembered for a very long time. The sister on the floor was followed by her sister on top of her and the last husband on top of the two of them sandwiched in between several pieces of luggage.

If it was just this family it would have been plenty, but others followed with at least two more added to the heap. The first husband turned around when he heard all the commotion to see his sister and brother-in-law, his wife and two others sprawled out on the floor, luggage all around and uproarious laughter. He wanted to know “what in the world happened” as he examined the pile of humanity just a few inches from the end of the conveyor belt.

One woman who landed on the very top of the pile refused to find the humor in this situation. She yelled a few profanities and after hoisting herself to a standing position, stormed off mumbling all the way.

A conveyor belt can be tricky for sure. You know it’s coming and you try to be prepared but anything can change the dynamics of the drop off point. The belt can stop, slow down, or speed up. Others might block the clear path you’ve set and you have to recalculate your moves. It can also depend upon how much baggage you have.

Choosing how to exit is important. We can fly off or land in a heap. We can step off smoothly or keep backing up to avoid the inevitable. One thing is certain, there is an end just like there is a beginning.

It’s this conveyor belt of life that has me thinking more and more about where it might end. That’s what my dear late husband meant.

None of us knows the exact end point from where we currently are but we can enjoy the ride along the way, right?

Photo by Naim Benjelloun on