The up-escalator at Target stopped working as I approached it. Two tiny, older women were about halfway up the escalator at the time and screamed when it stopped moving - maybe they've seen Family Feud. Rather than continuing to walk up the escalator like a staircase, they walked back down to the bottom, which couldn't have been their desired destination. As I cut in front of them to model what walking up an immobile staircase looks like, they dramatically whined about how they lost all of their stuff and would have to start shopping again.
Indeed, their cart was stuck in the middle of the escalator. Target has these devices where shoppers can ride up the escalator alongside their shopping carts (if you've never seen what that looks like, here's a no-frills Youtube video) and that had stopped moving, too.
My first thought was to alert a Target employee to help them, and then I chuckled at the thought of a helpful Target employee. Those suckers will try to hide from you. Instead, I decided to help the theatrical customers myself. When I reached the halfway point, I reached over the banister on my tippy-toes and into the stranded cart to retrieve a few of the items at a time.
I brought the first of three armloads back down to them and they were ecstatic. "Oh thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!" I guess if you're the type to get hysterical over small things, it's important to counter that with being overly grateful when someone tries to assist you. I went back up and got another load, which they were also giddy about. By the time I brought them the last of their items, they squealed and each gave me a big hug. "You're our hero! Our hero!"
Hero seemed a little far-fetched for someone who stretched a bit to grab some items, but I can't pretend I didn't sort of like it. I mean, if the escalator had started up again while I was leaning over, I could have lost my balance and gotten hurt. But if there's anything that's worth risking your life for, it's retrieving fabric softener that these women could have just as easily gone back to the shelf for.
After I walked back up the escalator to resume my own shopping, the women finally followed suit, struggling to carry armloads of goods up to the top. I could have just delivered the items to the top in the first place and saved them the trouble, but I wasn't about to argue with their logic. Their logic had decreed me a hero. And the rest of you probably should now, too.