Stairs

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Escher's Relativity

MC Escher was an early adopter of stairs in his house.

Stairs is the term given to more than one stair arranged diagonally to allow ease of movement between a lower floor and an upper floor, which comes in especially handy during commercial breaks when the toilet is on a different floor to the television viewing room. During the Dark Ages many viewers missed the recap of what happened before the last break due to the inefficiency of rope-ladders and fireman poles, particularly for those afflicted with aching joints and leprosy. Stairs were invented to address this problem as well as providing an effective defense against Dalek invasions. The invention of stairs also had other unforeseen benefits such as providing a safe and local government body-approved way to exit a building if the elevator fails during a fire.

Stairs are useful as a navigation aid for traversing a multi-level building or dungeon, even where no such stairs exist. The term upstairs can mean any floor above another floor, even if that floor is downstairs from another floor above it. This upstairs-downstairs duality has often resulted in confusion for many building dwellers who can’t decide which floor they need to be on when exiting an elevator. Many reports of missing people have been resolved when they were found wandering aimlessly caught in the limbo between upstairs and downstairs.

Stairs should not be confused with steps, which are completely different except in cases where they can conveniently mean the same thing when it suits this article.

Usage

Stairs can be negotiated in many different ways. To ascend stairs, one can simply walk up them, alternating feet with each stair. It doesn't matter which foot is used on the first (or bottom) stair unless one has OCD and must always start off on the right foot. An alternative method of ascending stairs is to climb them, however this involves specialist equipment such as ropes and crampons and should only be attempted after the appropriate preparations have been made. Descending stairs is typically easier and invariably involves sliding down the handrail on one's posterior wherever one is available (the handrail, that is). Otherwise one may toboggan down them in an empty clothes basket.

Types of stairs

Stairs coaster

A typical example of stairs.

Stairway

A stairway is stairs that extend upwards with no visible end. They are used to travel large distances and are typically multi-lane to permit varying speeds of pedestrian and with passing lanes to help prevent collisions. Probably the most widely known of stairways is the Stairway to Heaven, made popular by indie Christian band Led Zeppelin. As there is no known Elevator to Heaven, it is assumed that God doesn’t like disabled dead people.

Stairwell

A stairwell is a vertical shaft built into the ground that has stairs winding all the way down into its watery depths. The advantage over traditional wells is that far fewer little boys become trapped at the bottom, and those that do climb back out using the stairs can make themselves useful by also carrying up a bucket of water. In direct competition with the Stairway to Heaven is the Stairwell to Hell, brought into mainstream consciousness by anti-Christian band AC/DC.

Flight of stairs

A flight of stairs is the latest in pedestrian transit in the largest buildings. Flights of stairs usually have multiple landings before reaching the final destination. Meals are optional and in-flight entertainment is provided by watching fellow pedestrians occasionally tripping over a step and falling arse-over-elbow all the way back down to the previous landing.

Staircase

A staircase is used to store stairs when not being used. They are usually portable and can be used in place of a ladder; one can simply open the staircase and remove the stairs to reach previously unattainable heights. A staircase of a size of no more than twenty stairs can also be taken as carry-on luggage on a flight of stairs.

Collapsing stairs

Collapsing stairs are the staple trap of devious dungeon designers and less reputable building architects when the effect is unintentional. Historically, collapsing stairs have accounted for less accident insurance claims than being trampled by a herd of wild penguins while on safari in Antarctica, on account of the embarrassment caused by falling for such an obvious trap.

Escalator

An escalator is the term used for stairs that move slowly up or down on their own, requiring no physical effort on the part of its users. They were designed to slow down pedestrians in large shopping malls and provide more time to sight-see, infuriating those held up behind them in a rush to get to the latest sales of stairs. The practice of standing still while the escalator does all the work is known to all others as being so gosh-danged lazy.

Accidents

Stairs are the leading cause of accidents or even "accidents" worldwide that result in paralysis, death or ending up on YouTube. Most stairs-related accidents occur whilst someone else is recording it on a cellphone, while "accidents" occur in private when the victim is pushed from the top stair by a ne'er-do-well or a trusted caregiver. Accidents involving infant children may be prevented by fostering them out to another family without stairs in their house. Video games have been created to simulate the effects of falling down stairs in order to better understand how the human body breaks into hundreds of pieces at the bottom, providing valuable research for bored teenagers everywhere.

Stairs in popular culture

Heaven stairs

The number of steps to heaven is still open for debate.

  • When Harry Potter was a young child he was held captive in a small room under the stairs of his parents' home. He grew up without a full understanding of how stairs worked, having never seen the "other side". It was this lack of foreknowledge that was of benefit to him when confronted with the magical maze of stairs at Hogwarts as he had no preconceived notions of the correct way of getting from one end to the other. As usual in these kinds of stories, luck and ignorance triumph over stairs.
  • The classic Hitchcock film The 39 Steps is about a house in Scotland where there are coincidentally 39 stairs leading up to the front porch. The house is owned by the leader of a spy ring which is smuggling information on the latest developments in stairs out of Britain.
  • The 1960 hit song 3 Steps to Heaven by Eddie Cochran documents his interpretation of the minimum number of stairs required to ascend to heaven following death. Upon stepping on each stair, the dead person must fulfil a prescribed objective. The first step requires one to find a girl he or she loves, and once achieved, can move on to the second step, presumably also with the aforementioned girl. At this halfway point on the stairs, the girl must fall in love with the deceased. If this can managed without the opportunity to get to know each other over a few dates, both parties can proceed to the third and final step where they must kiss, at which point the door to heaven will be opened and the spirit may terminate the relationship without so much as a goodbye.

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