Lame Adventure 418: Stair Crazy

My friend, Milton, is trying to come to grips with having to climb 79 steps to see the Broadway play, The Realistic Joneses, from the balcony of the Lyceum Theatre next month. Looking as if he’d just seen Donald Trump pre-elaborate comb over, he groused:

Milton: That’s like climbing five flights.

When Milton mentioned five flights that struck a chord with me. I have climbed up and down five flights every day over the course of the nearly ten years I have been employed at The Grind. During any given work day I scamper up and down those stairs several times. When I left on Friday night with my colleague, Godsend, we counted the steps. They numbered 84. That’s a heart attack waiting to happen for those that do not ride a clothes rack that doubles as a spin bike.

Excluding weekends, vacation time and holidays, I whipped out my abacus and calculated that I easily climb 50,000 steps every year at my place of employ. Multiply that by ten years and the total is half a million steps. And that’s a conservative estimate. But why stop with the stairs I climb while at The Grind? What about the stairs I climb on my way there, leaving my sanctum sanctorum (a third floor walk-up: 34 steps) and entering the 72nd Street subway station (26 steps), then exiting the Franklin Street subway station (26 more steps)? Coupled with doubling those numbers for my return trip, that adds another 40,000 steps to the equation. In essence, over the course of the past ten years, I have climbed at least 900,000 work-related steps. In reality, the number is probably much closer to a million steps. Too bad I’m not paid a dollar per step.

Downtown 72nd Street subway station staircase I have climbed down countful (considering the nature of this post) times.

Downtown 72nd Street subway station staircase I have climbed down countful (considering the nature of this post) times.

Then, I turned my focus to my third floor walk-up apartment, where I have resided close to 31 years. I calculated that I have easily climbed up and down over three million sanctum sanctorum-related steps these past three decades.

Some of the less than magic carpeted stairs in my sanctum sanctorum.

Some of the less than magic carpeted stairs in my sanctum sanctorum.

What about my childhood? My childhood home had three levels and my room was on the top floor. There were approximately eighteen steps in that climb, a climb I made numerous times over the course of twenty-one years. The conservative estimate is a million steps climbed. Impressive for a slacker.

As for when I was an undergraduate Film student at NYU(seless), my dorm room was on the fourth floor. I took the stairs, so let’s toss in another 40,000 steps scaled there. I recall that I rode an elevator to get to most of my classes. That’s about all I remember from my illustrious film school education and probably explains why I make my living labeling tile today.

When I worked a completely thankless job for eleven years in broadcast news, my office was on the sixth floor. I would ride the elevator up but walk the six flights down when I took my lunch break and left for the day. I never thought to count those steps possibly because my attention was focused on how much I hated working in broadcast news. Today, my friend, Coco, lives on the top floor of a six-floor walkup. I asked her to count the stairs to her lair.

Coco: There are 80 lovely steps. I pray there is never a fire.

Over the course of those eleven years I worked in broadcast news, often six-day weeks, I climbed down approximately 80 stairs twice a day. If I worked a five-day week, factoring in three weeks vacation and time off (we always had to work holidays in news) that would be at least 440,000 steps climbed over eleven miserable years. The figure probably well exceeds 500,000 steps considering how many weekends I had to work.

In conclusion I have calculated that over the course of my entire life thus far, I have climbed the following steps:

Childhood Home 21 years (excluding from birth to age two): 1 million

College dorm room 1 year: 40,000

Manhattan apartment 31 years: 3 million

Miserable broadcast news job 11 years: 500,000

The Grind (including commute) 10 years: 1 million

Miscellaneous: 2 million*

Example of miscellaneous steps: steps leading into off-Broadway theater bathroom.

Example of miscellaneous steps: steps leading into off-Broadway theater bathroom.

*Figure pulled completely out of thin air.

It seems that I have climbed in the vicinity of 8 million steps in the course of my life. This achievement reminds me that the staircase is a great design wonder like the wheel or the shoebox, coincidentally another name for my apartment. Possibly after Milton reads this post he’ll feel less grumpy about having to climb 158 steps (79 up and 79 down) when we see that hit comedy play. Or, this will further remind him about how much he resents the theater’s lack of another great invention: the escalator.

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58 responses to “Lame Adventure 418: Stair Crazy

  1. Probably a reasonable value…*Figure pulled completely out of thin air.

    Enrico Fermi used to ask questions of colleagues and students that had no definitive answers. We in the physics community call them Fermi Questions. ‘How many angels could fit in the head of a pin? How much rain comes down in a typical thunderstorm?’

    If you could configure your 8 million steps to take you up a continuous stairs, how far up would you be?

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  2. I just can’t see this Milton soothing Milton’s upcoming tantrum.

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  3. just how big is that abacus you have??

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  4. I really do enjoy how your brain works, V. Focused, yet somehow divergent! And while you have whinged in the past about the prospect of hiking some of our trails here in Colorado, I suspect, given the above calculations, you could probably hold your own from a fitness standpoint. Great post!

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    • Glad you like the post, Cathy! Since I have seriously de-flabbed myself this year, I could probably scale a slight incline without sounding like a steam engine, but I still wouldn’t like it. Too much exposure to nature makes me nervous. I need steel, glass and concrete to maintain my equilibrium. I take comfort in the sound of sirens.

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  5. Not only are you a gifted writer and a math genius, I’m guessing you have a Beyonce or Kardasian type-butt from all that climbing. Does Milton ever use it to set his cocktail on?

    Now I’m wondering how many steps I’ve taken….

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  6. I think you need a pedometer. For more adventures, of course.

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  7. I think I climb maybe 12 stairs a day. Maybe less.
    I think Milton should feel pretty pleased with your analysis here. He’s got it easy compared to you.

    I need to go rest now. Your numbers made me dizzy.

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  8. Very impressive – first that you’ve climbed all those stairs, and second that you’ve been able to roughly calculate their number! Reminds me of a traffic survey I answered last week that wanted to know which form of transportation, destination and frequency of everywhere I went last year. (EVERYWHERE) After awhile I had to just start making things up before my head exploded. I live in a split level house with what I thought was a lot of stairs, but it doesn’t hold a candle to your regular routine. A measly 28 stairs scattered throughout the house hardly seems worth mentioning!

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  9. Fascinating article on cat lapping. Who knew?

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  10. Wow! I think you need to call Malcolm Gladwell and see if this qualifies you for some sort of genuisship like putting in the 10,000 hours. Impressive.

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  11. Hmmm…I live on the 5th floor of a walk-up…and I have to take Reggie out several times a day. So the whole idea of those stair climbing machines at the gym are laughable. Why on earth would I do that?

    I should write a “lame adventure” post about the time I had to haul a 60lb air conditioner up all those stairs. Just about killed me.

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    • Didn’t you write a post about your neighbors and all your stair climbing? Blame my muddled middle aged mind for not remembering it better, but I recall liking it a lot. Thirty years ago, I hauled what seemed like a ten ton TV from the TV store to my sanctum sanctorum. It was too close to hail a cab, but in retrospect, too far to carry it home. Ten ton TV’s really are not meant for take-out. I guess I was deaf to the concept of “delivery” in my younger days.

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  12. Dude. I had no idea you were a massive climber. I knew you were capable of doing the monster Fight For Air Climb I did a while back. I knew it! You were just playing it off. Over a million steps … dude you should have your own Gatorade commercial. 🙂 And I didn’t know you worked in broadcast news for 11 years. It’s nice to know something new. Although I’m sorry to hear that you hated it.

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    • No way could I EVER do that Fight For Air Climb you do annually, Guat! Wasn’t that something like 1,400 steps you climbed in fifteen minutes? I’d need to break that accomplishment up — spread it out over fifteen days.

      When I worked in broadcast news, I wasn’t exactly dynamic Peter Jennings. My job was more on par with Fidelia, the spinster bar coder’s.

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  13. For some reason, I no longer receive an email when you post. The thought of missing a Lame Adventure is a heartbreaking possibility that I don’t want to experience. Did my subscription run out? You didn’t disown me, did you?

    As to the stair counting; we don’t have many of those here. Even if we did, nobody would know how many there were since we don’t have an abacus and only a limited number of fingers and toes to work with.

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    • Nice to know that you live in the flatlands, Russell.

      Last year, I somehow lost my emails for Cathy from Large Self who I’ve been following for years. This year, there was a period when I wasn’t getting Kate Shrewsday’s posts in my Reader, but fortunately, hers still came to me in email. Every so often, for some strange reason, there are glitches. With Cathy, I just resubscribed. You might want to do that with LA. Kate contacted WordPress about disappearing from her following’s Readers and they fixed that problem. Technology: a blessing and a curse.

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  14. Oh, this is great! I can’t believe how you can remember all these steps. I hope Milton appreciates all of this! Tell him I think he should and he should walk those steps with a smile on his face. Oh yeah!

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    • Yes, Amy, isn’t it amazing how I can remember all these 8 million steps, but for almost an hour last week, I had no idea where I put my keys? I’m talented that way. As for Milton, I’m just hoping his grimace will fade fast.

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  15. I used to take the stairs at my old job. But I was only on the third floor. I admire your calculations. A) I never would have taken the time to actually figure it out B) that’s a lot of stairs.

    Tell Milton not to climb to the top of St. Paul’s in London. It’s over 500 stairs. And when you start, they make sure you know that it’s also over 500 steps down. However, the view is lovely, but he may be mad that they don’t let you stay up there for long if it’s busy. I was extremely annoyed by that since not only was I taking photos, but I was trying to catch my breath.

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    • Since you’re comparatively speaking, a youngster, I assign you to climb those 500 steps for us. I can handle 84, but 500? Ugh! At least one is rewarded with a view, but if I had to climb the 1,576 stairs to the top of the Empire State Building, I’d pass. Even riding the elevator is a long haul I haven’t done in years.

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  16. keep your knees up Milton!
    Danny and I lived on the 37th floor and every once in a while they would evacuate the building. Once for a tornado. 37 floors Milton. I was so dizzy!
    In Europe, we stayed in VRBO apartments on the third floor. It is really the 6th floor!

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    • That’s very sneaky of those Europeans Susie! Stair climbing sensitive Milton would not like that! I would not be wild about having to climb down 37 flights every so often, either. In fact, I’d probably go ballistic. Milton would simply move out.

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  17. Going up stairs is great exercise. Think how much more you would have needed your spin bike without all those stairs! We always take the stairs on cruise ships. Not only do we avoid the crowds at the elevators that way, but it helps to work off all that excellent cruise food.

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    • As you can tell from this post, I am an accomplished stair climber, and you might be right that if I were not scampering up and down stairs so often, I would have to ride my spin bike more than the four times a week I ride it now. No thanks! You do strike me as a very active type (when your elbow is fully functioning; very glad that it’s healing).

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  18. As someone who grew up in Pittsburgh, a hilly city, where we had what were called “City Steps,” I’m a huge fan of this post, dear V! Milton, get a grip! You can do it!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, Kathy, so I had no idea it’s a hilly city. My home town, San Francisco, sure is! New York is rather flat. I’m not complaining. Milton will make the ascent, grumbling.

      Hugs back from the Apple,
      V

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  19. I moved my coffee pot back downstairs to the kitchen to force me to climb stairs at least 20 times a day. This doesn’t begin to get me near you monumental numbers. I worship at your stairclimbing feat, or is it feet?

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  20. Pingback: Thank You All! « LargeSelf

  21. Wow, you are the StairMaster! You know, I think it probably does as much to keep you in shape as does the exercise bike. Being inclined to corpulence, I try to take the stairs whenever possible. We don’t have too many buildings of more than two stories where I live, so i don’t get the opportunity too often.

    Now, it would seem that Milton’s grousing about 79 steps is silly, but do I remember something from these pages about Milton having a bum knee or something? Because that, as they say, would be a paradigm-changer. What was silly becomes quite understandable.

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    • I was climbing up and down those stairs (and eating like a hog) throughout my weight gain, Smak, so I don’t know how much the helped me. Riding the spin bike regularly and practicing portion control have been the key sources of my de-flabbing.

      Yes, good memory! Milton did indeed have a bum knee a few years back. It’s healed. Now he’s just Mr. Cranky about stair climbing. Those 79 steps are fast approaching.

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