The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Watch Your Step

Thank you Lord that I spotted the three little old ladies in their long skirts and head scarves recoiling in horror at the prospect of riding an airport escalator. Made my day.

They were in a group of five, the three women and two men. The third woman let the other two ladies step on with giggles, gathering their skirts and holding each other in the descent. The men joined them, but without the giggling.

The third woman’s scarf was beige with flowers. She refused to join the others on the downward slope, moving out of the way of other travelers and eyeing the nearby up-escalator. It was frozen in energy saver mode and paused. She briefly considered just taking those stairs. One of the men yelled–husband-like–as he rolled on ahead. The other man, perhaps her grown son, hiked up the down escalator to save her from herself. He let some impatient passengers pass, then led his mother carefully back on track. He stepped first, she followed quickly, without breathing. Then she clutched her skirt and shifted from foot to foot. As the end approached, she dug her fingers into her son’s arm as he eased her onto firm ground. He wore a big smile, like a parent gazing at a child finally coaxed to eat their vegetables.

One more escalator ride stood between them and their gate. The husband-like man calling out, the two gigglers bounding ahead automatically, and the son speaking quietly with his mother to keep her mind elsewhere. By the second set of moving stairs, she had already grown less apprehensive. Her husband tried to hustle her and she stared beyond him. She stepped right on, haughty, not even looking down. She would come along as he called, but she wouldn’t be caught enjoying herself.

–Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Virgin Mary, Istanbul travel photos

For the friend who reminded me that Mary also wore a headscarf. Inside the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.

I understand the fear of Falling In Public

16 comments on “Watch Your Step

  1. adventurousandrea
    September 24, 2012

    I appreciate that you take notice of the small things in life. So much is occurring around us that we fail to recognize!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 24, 2012

      Yeah, and I’ve promised to post 3 times a week, so let’s pray the small things never cease!! Thanks for the compliment. I hope the observations get infectious (in a good way).

      • adventurousandrea
        September 24, 2012

        I am sure there will always be things to catch your eye. πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for reminding me to try new things. It’s okay to be afraid and lean on someone we trust while we take baby steps. Until we feel confident to take those steps, whatever they are, on our own.

  3. adinparadise
    September 24, 2012

    I guess that escalators must be very scary for a first timer as an adult. I’ve seen the same sort of thing with rural African people visiting the city. They’re petrified and can dither for ages before plucking up courage. πŸ™‚

  4. M-R
    July 9, 2014

    When my mother was getting old, she indicated nervousness on an escalator when she was over in Sydney to visit us; and it gave me some understanding of how things change for a person with age. That was a long time ago: now I realize it wasn’t nearly ENOUGH understanding !!!

    • πŸ™‚ I don’t care for those ends of escalators either, M-R! I hated them as a child (worried my dresses would get caught and consumed!) and even now I take the non-moving paths in the airport.

  5. vanbraman
    July 10, 2014

    I have a few pictures of Mary with the headscarf that I took a couple months ago πŸ™‚

    • Vanbraman, have you used them? Can you give me a link? I had a friend who was Muslim and told me, “You know, even Mary wore a headscarf!” πŸ™‚ I loved that very much.

  6. kiwiskan
    July 10, 2014

    my mum was always terrified of escalators

    • Maureen,
      I can understand why! I’m not too fond of elevators either, so it’s a trade off. πŸ™‚

      • kiwiskan
        July 10, 2014

        I’ve been trapped three times in elevators – once in a power cut and alone, so I’m not that keen on them either

  7. ChristineR
    July 12, 2014

    I can confirm my initial terror of escalators. It has taken many rides before I can now get on – and especially off – with any confidence. Thanks for this lovely observation, Paige. Elevators make me nervous still.

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This entry was posted on September 24, 2012 by in Europe, Happiness, Observed, Travel and tagged , , , , , , .

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