The Runaway Wheelchair Story

Having to drive is a chore for me, especially recently – because my main client has offices in another city, so I am clocking up 130 km (80 mi) every day.

I have been spoiled by having clients in the recent past that have been close enough to walk or use public transport.

There are few garages around, so I depend on supermarket filling stations to get petrol, and because I need to stretch my legs, I often nip in to have a stroll about the aisles.

In ASDA, they have created a mezzanine level for electronics and clothes. You have to use a “travelator” thing – it’s like a normal escalator, just stretched out longer so you can take a shopping trolley up with you – the metal floor goes flat and somehow manages to lock the wheels of the trolley.

Strolling in through the automatic doors, I was confronted by a family of refugees blocking access to the “up travelator” – the children and husband/father seemed OK with the thing – but the mother figure was too scared to step onto the moving walkway. What a scene!

I managed to dodge around and got up to the mezzanine, but it was on the return trip that the real excitement happened.

Having had my stroll about the place, I was heading for the “down travelator”, when an old woman nipped in front of me. She was pushing a standard NHS wheelchair in which was sitting an even older lady. Onto the travelator they went, and I followed.

Then the fun started.

The wheelchair started down the slope – and the pusher was too old and infirm to be able to stop it! There was a boy further down the thing, and he saw what was about to happen – and screamed out!

It looked like the wheelchair was going to race down the ramp, hit him and accelerate off through the automatic doors into the car park…

This is when I made my move.

In a couple of bounds, I managed to grab the wheelchair handle on the left side, and struck out my foot to brake the left wheel. With the pulling of the other woman on the right, we managed to stop the wheelchair. I pulled hard and kicked to turn the chair to a bit of an angle into the side in case we couldn’t hold it still.


“Thank You!” blurted the red-faced pusher as we slowly descended in high tension – holding on tight.

“I thought it was like the trolleys,” she continued. “I thought it would hold the chair!”

We reached the bottom, and parted company. I had hurt my knee, wrist and ankle, and hobbled out to the carpark, wondering what would could have happened, and how easy it was for wheelchairs to get onto these things.

It was only as I was driving away that I wondered how they had got up to the mezzanine in the first place.