Airport Escalator And Upside Down Lady

May 7, 2009

in Airport Stories

Much of the adventures of flying usually begin before you are anywhere near the plane. I was traveling from Philadelphia to Seattle. It was relatively slow in the airport. I checked in at the kiosk and proceeded to “up” escalator on the way to security. As I approached the escalator there was an elderly Hispanic woman standing at the escalator holding the hand of a two-year old boy and struggling with a baby stroller. She didn’t seem to know what to do and was looking for assistance but didn’t speak English.

All the sudden there’s a line of people standing there waiting for her to do something. So I stepped forward, took the boy’s hand and indicated to her to just step onto the escalator. Almost as soon as she stepped on, she lost her balance and fell backwards — lying on her back, feet pointing up the escalator and head pointing down. She was like a turtle struggling to roll over.

I panicked because I had visions of the escalator filleting this four-foot senior citizen as she got to the top and her hair and dress get pulled through the metal grate where the escalator’s steps mysteriously disappeared. So with adrenaline coursing through my veins I somehow managed to get her back on her feet just before we reached the top. However, she was facing me and looking down the escalator and not where she was about to be unloaded onto the upper floor. I urged her to quickly turn around but she didn’t understand what I was saying.

Once at the top, her feet met the stationary floor and she promptly fell down again on the floor. Well, the escalator didn’t stop and a dozen people were unloaded all trying to jump over me and this poor woman. So there I was again struggling to right this lady, dropping my wallet, drivers license and other stuff in the process. I don’t even know what happened to the little boy other than he was fine.

People negotiated their way around me and acted as if this was an everyday occurrence. Nobody stopped to help. Nobody said a word. Not even the little lady — not even a “gracias senior.” There were all these people standing around and nobody said a word. No “Nice job dude.”

The whole episode lasted about 45 seconds. I stepped forwarded and handed security my boarding pass with my shaking, sweaty hand. “Identification please.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

SAW May 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

people who don't know how an escalator works have no business being in an airport without someone guiding them.


Elodie May 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Way to be understanding of the needs of the foreign and elderly, SAW. I bet everyone loves you for your sensitivity and knowledge of the world.

But that was sweet, what you did, helping that poor woman.


Frequent Flier June 1, 2009 at 7:28 am

SAW is the guy who jumped right over her, and kicked her in the face as he was doing it, all the while fantasizing about kicking his evil grandmother.


Jess June 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

Baby strollers do not belong on escalators. Something is wrong with this story because there is no mention of the stroller again once the old lady stepped onto the escalator and fell down.


Hugh June 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

I have to agree with SAW on this one. I fly out of PHL all the time. If she had a kid and a stroller, and an obvious mental challenge, there are elevators tens of feet away from the escalators, she should have used one of them. I can also perfectly picture people walking around and over, with not thought given to actually helping.


poco June 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm

As the above comments make clear, people are dicks in this kind of situation. At least you tried to do the right thing, but I'm not at all surprised that you got no appreciation for your efforts.


Kara June 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

At least I know there are still people willing to help others in the world. Hats off to you for helping this poor lady and the little boy who was probably her grandson. We just assume that everyone knows about escalators and elevators, etc., she was probably very scared and was trying to follow everyone else's lead.


Laura Cardwell June 28, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Man that's scary as hell. Glad everyone was ok. She was probably way too flustered and embarrassed to give a proper thank you. You did the right thing!


Bruce B Campbell July 21, 2009 at 11:25 am

Fresh off a flight from India, I had occasion to witness a similar event sans-stroller. An elderly Indian stood perplexed at the bottom. Urged to get on, she lost her balance and ended up on her back being trashed by the moving steps. Most just stood there. A few tried in vain to right the woman. I thought about the kill switch. It wasn't at the bottom, so I had to leap over the thrashing lady and run up the stairs. Lukily she wasn't too damaged, but it was scary to watch.


Atari August 4, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I think the reason people don't help is because they are too embarrassed to.

"Should I help? Would I be getting in the way? Is this supposed to be happening? What if she thinks I'm a rapist? Uuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh."

I'm a nice person, myself, and love to help people inexplicably, but I have found that, in my attempts to help, I have often done more damage than reparation, whether it's because no one needed help, or because I helped to my own detriment and was berated for it by my parents.


I dunno.


rerere January 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

she should've been taking the elevator.


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