In a piece called Is Blood Thicker than Water? I challenged the notion of family. I said that everyone is my blood relation. A few hours after writing that article, I got to see my idea in action.
As I was going down the escalator of the bookshop, it suddenly came to a standstill. Now what? I saw a young lady at the bottom. The edge of her skirt was caught in the escalator, which had stopped the escalator. She was trying to pull it free but it was stuck. We had no choice but to walk down the steps.
I asked her if there was anything I could do for her. I tried to pull her skirt free but it stayed put. She said someone else had gone to get help. She seemed flustered. I decided to keep her company until she was released.
"This is so embarrassing," she kept saying. "I always get myself in these kinds of situations. I was so busy thinking about what I'm going to do next, I forgot to lift up my skirt and it got caught."
"I know what you mean. Sometimes I'm so in my head and don't notice things. What were you thinking about?"
"I was thinking of having a drink."
"No alone. "
"You'll be released soon," I said.
My friend said she liked that skirt because it kept her warm. She bought it at Camden four years ago.
"It's really kind of you to stay and talk to me like this," she said.
"No problem," I said. "At least you can share this story with your friends."
"Yes, they'll just think it's so typical of me," she chuckled.
"Well, I'm a writer and I'm always looking for good stories,” I teased her."
"I'm not a journalist though so I promise I won't distort your story that much."
A member of staff was soon on the scene. He said he was going to reverse the escalator which he believed would release my friend's skirt. So off he went to get the key. When he returned, he opened the control box.
"Ha, so that's how the escalator works! I've often wondered." I said. " See, I wouldn't have known if your skirt hadn't stopped the escalator."
The young man pressed the buttons but the escalator wouldn't budge. The young lady suggested that he should just cut her skirt and release her that way. So the man went to get some scissors.
While we were waiting, I asked my friend what her name was and she said Josephine.
"That's funny because my last name is Joseph."
Josephine said she came to the bookshop to buy her sister a book on organic vegetation as her sister is vegetarian. One customer coming down the escalator suggested that my friend should get a discount. I agreed.
Suddenly I noticed a penny on the step right where my friend was stuck.
"Look, a penny!" I picked it up. "You should keep it for luck."
"No, you have it," she said. "It's for staying with me. It's not much though."
"I will keep it and it will always remind me of you."
The shop assistant returned with a pair of scissors to cut my friend's skirt loose. He also apologised for the inconvenience caused. I asked him if my friend could get a discount. Because she had already paid for her book, he said that next time she is buying a book, she should ask for him and he will give her a discount.
On the next escalator, Josephine remembered to lift up her skirt. At the bottom we exchanged hugs and I wished her well.
So there we were all going about our affairs at the bookshop and dreaming we didn't know each other. When Josephine's skirt got stuck in the escalator, for that moment we were awake to our identity as family who share the same surname, Love. One member of the family, appearing as a customer, went to get help. Another member of the family, me, offered to stay with Josephine. Another member of the family, acting as a shop assistant, released my friend.
It was good to get connected with members of my family again. Though our interaction was quite brief, our love is forever.
We are one family sharing the same surname, Love.
Related articles: Is Blood Thicker than Water?; One Dreamer, Many Players; Love is Forever; Grace - Revisited