Mid-afternoon I was walking from one work building to another when I came upon an elderly woman behind a walker, stopped at the top of an escalator. She was looking forlornly down the steep, narrow, speedy moving staircase; and while I didn’t really want to get involved, part of me felt that I probably ‘should’. So I gently approached the woman, and calmly said, “Hi there – can I help you?”
The frail, unsteady lady looked at me, and instantly brightened. She explained, “I’d really like to get down that escalator; but I can’t do it with this,” she indicated her walker. She continued, “I think I could get myself down there okay – but I can’t handle my cart, too.” She gazed back down the escalator, looking deflated.
Though I’m no longer in my twenties, I am still an able-bodied woman. I looked at the lady, and offered, “If you can get yourself down the escalator, I can get your walker. Shall we give it a go?”
I could tell that was exactly the response the woman was hoping for; she quickly showed me how to use the brakes on her device, and offered to show me how to fold it up to make it more manageable. I kindly smiled at her, said, “That’s okay, I think I have it,” and started to push the walker onto the escalator.
Ha, famous last words. I didn’t fully ‘have’ anything. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, the escalator we were attempting to navigate is particularly steep, narrow, and speedy:
As I moved the walker onto the top step, one of the back wheels got caught – and I found my balance being significantly tested as I struggled to keep the walker, my work documents, and my body all upright and moving at the same speed, in the same direction (in a dress). Push came to shove, and my portfolio and papers went flying – but they eventually landed at the bottom of the escalator. (Thank you gravity.) Suddenly and unexpectedly having one hand now free, I quickly righted the walker, and in the next second the supportive aid and I were safely on the escalator, where after a few seconds we joined my paperwork two stories down.
Seeing what must have been some sight, the woman nervously called out after me, “Ooohhh, be careful!”, then cautiously-but-successfully stepped onto the moving staircase – and moments later joined me, my papers, and her walker on the ground floor.
After I had put the woman’s device in front of her (and made sure the brakes were released), she smiled at me and thanked me for my help. I smiled in return – and thanked her for giving me a small-but-fun adventure today. 🙂