The Accelerating Moving Walkway
My first encounter with the accelerating moving walkway was at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport. My friend Ericson and I were at the airport waiting for our next flight to the states. We enjoyed watching people walk on the airport’s accelerating moving walkway. We were ambivalent about the speed and wondering about the first step on to the walkway and the last step to exit. On the one hand, we saw people stepping and walking on it confidently and steadily as if they are walking on the ground, only faster. On the other hand, it seems like a perilous short journey on a fast-moving machine. With such a high speed, if one falls, the engine and the surrounding short-wall could break his or her bones, we supposed.
The more people we see walking on the walkway, the more confident we became, and the more reliable the walkway machine felt to us. Finally, my friend Ericson and I decided to try to walk on the walkway. So, we did.
As far as I can remember, my first step on the walkway caused a total imbalance, and I almost fell. I completely lost control of my motor skills and cognitive function for a few seconds. I walked like a drunk person, improperly and uncontrolled. My backpack also contributed to the struggle with imbalance; as it moved left and right disproportionally. Ericson too had his struggles during our battle with the walkway, which only further gained us spectators. I could hear people’s voices clearly in the background, some laughing and others cheering us on.
Our last step out of the walkway was more dangerous and scarier than the first. I honestly didn’t know which of my two feet to exit first. I could see the end of the walkway approaching fast but did not know how to get across the finish line. While still trying to decide which foot to step out first, the fast-moving walkway propelled me and tripped me up. I found myself on the ground. Ericson and I finally made it out of the walkway safely, and in one piece.
After this comical scenario, we encountered other South Sudanese at a restaurant only a short walking distance from the walkway. We introduced ourselves, and they did too. Then they bought food and tea for Ericson and me. We were thankful for their warmth, and welcoming hospitality. All of them were coming from Egypt en-route to the United States. I do not recall which states they were all going to, but I can remember one family was going to Phoenix, Arizona, and a single young man, named Deng, was going to New Jersey. I was certainly happy to know that I would have someone accompanying me to New Jersey.
After about a 30 minute conversation, Ericson and I decided to go back to the walkway again. We couldn’t get it off our minds. So, we headed towards the walkway and decided to give it a shot. We did, but this time, we were cautious. Because we succeeded the second time, Ericson and I developed an unmatched joy and passion for it. We became confident with every walk.
Admittedly, Ericson and I spent the next three or so hours walking back and forth on the walkway. We did not cease until we heard the announcement for our trip. Ericson and I walked to the gate and immediately joined the line.
My struggle with the accelerating moving walkway machine mirrors my journey of undying hope. I have fallen so many times and received countless punches in life, but I continue to get right back up and keep on going – with hope alive in me.
Until next article on hope and resilience, take care of yourselves and each other!