I have known this particular lady for several years now, Mrs B; I think she’s German, but not quite sure from where. We bump into each other relatively regularly, typically by the photocopier or the coffee machine, and we chat. Just pleasantries, nothing profound or meaningful, just chat about this, that or the other. And so, as I say, I don’t really know much about her, apart from her name, she’s about my age 56-57ish, perhaps German, I don’t think she’s Swiss, and of course she speaks English as well. She seems nice, a little shy perhaps, but I would guess she has a sense of humour, even if we do little more than pass the time of day.
However, a few months ago, before the summer holidays, when I saw her, she was using crutches and what they call here a ‘foot-tutor’; a sort of a plastic version of a plaster cast (on google they call it an ‘Airstep Walker Tutor’ – whatever!) So, we giggled a bit at the silliness of the situation; hobbling around like an invalid. And I sympathised. And she told me she’d fallen over up in the mountains whilst walking with her family, torn a ligament or something, and we went to work to our different rooms not giving it much more of a thought.
I work on the fourth floor, and after I’d finished work, at about 8 o’clock, I was waiting by the lifts to go down, when Mrs B hobbled along and we smiled. But rather than coming towards me and the lifts, she made for the stairs. Obviously I asked her,
‘Why on earth don’t you take the elevator? You can’t go down the stairs on crutches!’
And so I offered to walk down with her, and she told me why she didn’t use the lifts.