The image of an elderly man receiving a helping hand down an escalator has generated the praise of thousands online.
It occurred at Holyoke Mall in Massachusetts on June 15, reports the Daily Mail. Alonzo Johnson, 23, stopped and decided to help the elderly man, who seemed frightened at the prospect of getting on the escalator.
Johnson said he didn't know anyone was watching when he offered the man his arm, helping him onto the escalator. "He looked very afraid and I thought maybe I could help," Johnson told MassLive.
Paula Accorsi Picard of West Springfield snapped a photo of the moment, which shows the men from behind, with Johnson's left arm holding the elderly man's right arm. Picard, a hospice nurse, was at the mall with a friend. "We're both nurses, we're both hospice nurses, not that that matters, but we deal with elderly people all the time," she said.
According to Picard, the elderly man explained that he was afraid due to a previous experience on an escalator in Las Vegas. "I'm 83 years old; I shouldn't be afraid, but I got scared," she quoted him as saying. When Johnson came along and helped the man, she was duly impressed. "It was really nice. You don't see that a lot," she said.
Picard posted the picture on Facebook with a caption:
A little redemption for the suffering human soul. The older man was paused at the top of an escalator and a few people started gathering waiting to get on. It was clear he was feeling unsure and this young man offered the simplest kindness: an out-reached arm and a "can I help you on, sir?" He quietly started to explain to the young man that he had gotten stuck on an escalator once and was a little scared. The young man gently offered an assurance, they looked at each other eye to eye for just a moment and the older man accepted his arm. Everyone else remained patient. So, so sweet to witness!
In about an hour, the evening news will air and we'll be reminded of division, race wars, political mud-slinging, shootings and other heartaches. But today, violence, race, age, politics and other social lines were blurred and one person simply helped another. I wanted to hug both of them. Whoever this young man is, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU RIGHT! THANK YOU! So, please look for the silver linings - as I was so fortunate to witness this evening.
Picard's post quickly went viral, with more than 420,000 likes and 25,000 comments.
The praise came as quite a surprise to Johnson. "This is something I've never dealt with before and it's so, like, humbling," he said in a June 16 phone interview with MassLive. "But it's a lot. But I'm embracing it. It's something very unexpected. My family and I are constantly looking at the Facebook posts and seeing the attention."
Although Johnson chatted with the elderly man while they were on the escalator together, he didn't get his name. "I told him -- and he did, he looked very nice -- I said, 'You look nice,'" Johnson said, referring to his attire.
He credits his mother and his faith for his act of goodwill. "I definitely believe in God. My Mom has me going to church, but my Mom is the reason for all of this. My Mom always tells us to be nice and do the right thing, you never know who's watching. It's really the way I was brought up and how I was raised," he said.