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One False Move…

Ever felt guilty because you wanted to help someone? I had that exact feeling earlier today when I wanted to help a woman get to her bus in San Francisco, but only around 200 feet away from the stop, she lost her balance on the escalator. I was apologetic to her because she did not make it up the escalator, but she told me she was all right.

I was helping this old lady who just got out of surgery from California Pacific Medical Center when she boarded a Muni M light rail train from Stonestown. I gave up the seat where I placed my bag so that she can have a seat. She had a cane, and she told me that she wanted to get on to Golden Gate Transit to get home to Petaluma. I then told her that she could get off at the next stop (at Eucalyptus) and she can walk back towards 19th Avenue to catch a Muni 28-Nineteenth Avenue bus heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge and then transfer there to a Golden Gate Transit bus. Instead, though, she sat her way and told her that she could also pick up the bus at Civic Center station. I even volunteered to help her guide her way out because she told me that she has not been to the City for a long time. She was out here to have a surgery at California Pacific Medical Center, and she just finished meeting her friend at Stonestown Mall.

As the train went underground, I asked her if we could use the elevator going up to the street so that we can save her legs from walking. She said, “I’m good with the escalator, but I’m better off with the elevator.” Not realizing that the elevator from the Muni platform only went as high as the concourse level — and not the street — she told me that we can use the escalator. She was fine when she took the first escalator from the Muni platform to the concourse level. I was walking ahead of her and watched her walk so that I could sense if she was doing fine. I saw an elevator on the left side of the Muni exit, but we opted not to use that elevator because that would have brought us to United Nations Plaza instead of the stop at Market & 7th Streets. Realizing that she had a hard time walking, I asked her if she could do the stairs as well; unfortunately, she couldn’t. And when we approached the elevator one last time before rising up to Market Street, I told the lady that we will need to use the escalator to exit the station.

Once we were aboard the escalator, I got in first, and watched the lady which I assisted a little bit to get on. And there were two people right behind her. All of a sudden, she suddenly lost her balance that she fell down on the escalator back first, and the two people right behind her were hit as well. I saw her fall from the escalator all of a sudden that I screamed “Stop the escalator! Stop the escalator!” Good thing someone heard my voice — and possibly the bang from the lady and two other people — that one of the BART agents stopped the escalator. Another BART agent went up on the stopped elevator and rushed to her care. Then the male agent who stopped the elevator went up, along with his bag, to help the woman. I was shocked at what happened, I saw the lady I was helping out sitting down on an escalator step, feeling a bit painful. The agent then called assistance: first a fire truck, then an ambulance, both of them providing stretchers for the lady. I was left standing on the escalator a few feet above where she lost her balance and fell down from the escalator, feeling guilty that I helped the woman but didn’t accomplish the job I wanted: to get her to the stop on Market & 7th Streets and see her ride a Route 101 heading home to Petaluma. And when one of the fire marshals arrived, I started walking away briskly away from the escalator so that first aid responders could help the lady. She really wanted to get up, but the agents told her not to. The male agent even told her that she had a scathing wound, which fortunately was not critical, but he told her to stay seated until paramedics arrived. In just 3 minutes, I saw an ambulance rushing into the scene, and once the emergency responders came in, I just watched her pain… and I prayed that she would be all right. Then, to avoid being gossiped upon by bystanders, I simply walked away from the scene and boarded an F-Market & Wharves streetcar away from Civic Center, still having the heavy feeling of guilt that I failed to finish my job.

It seems like my life has been this way: when I’m getting really close to where I want to be, something really bad happens. It might be a missed deadline, an accident, even a dubious mistake which I feel that I might regret it for the rest of my life. But, one thing’s for sure: I have learned a valuable lesson from that incident. I have learned that anything can happen along the way, and with that, I must be mindful of what others are actually doing or feeling because anything could happen, and it can come in the blink of an eye.

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