What do I think I would do in a similar situation?
I want to say that yes, yes I would help, but I honestly don’t know.
I hold the door open for people if I see them struggling. Like when I was at the bike store being checked out. An elderly man came in with a bike, trying to get it through the door, which wouldn’t stay open, along with himself, something I had struggled to do myself only a few minutes before.
Instead of letting him struggle ungracefully like I had, I walked away from my transaction and held the door for him. He gave a small thank you, I went back to my spot and that was that.
It didn’t seem like a lot to me. It wasn’t a lot of effort. It was a simple problem.
But when I see cars on the side of the road, hazards flashing, I don’t stop to make sure they’re ok like people have done for me in the past. When my Buick stalled and then refused to turn back on while I was driving to pick up RB from work one day I had two different cars stop and ask if I was alright even though I had already called and arranged for someone to help me.
That made me feel warm and cared for and like there were good people in the world even though countless other cars passed by.
I’ve never stopped for someone else. I’ve never been considerate like that for another person, making sure they had a charged cell phone and were able to reach someone who could help them.
Would I help someone bleeding out on a street in the middle of New York? I want to say yes, that I would care about my fellow human enough to do that. But what if I didn’t see the blood? What if, like everyone else, I thought it was just a druken homeless man in the street?
Would I keep walking? Leave the issue for someone else? Would I stop, kneel down to check on him, and upon seeing the blood call for help?
I don’t know. And I hate that answer. If I look at my history, my past experiences, I am forced to admit that like many other people, if I didn’t see anything overtly wrong, I would most likely keep going.
I would assume that he was “fine”, just drunk, and keep going.
One time when I was taking Zane to work we saw a homeless man on the sidewalk. Most likely pan handling because that’s a major thing here in Orlando. It’s why I so very rarely give people any sort of money in situations like that, because you can never tell if they’re just scamming you.
As we were driving through the intersection a teenager jumped out of a car, ran back to the older man, punched him until he was on the ground then ran back to the car and drove a way. Right in front of Zane and me. We saw the whole thing.
We couldn’t stop in the middle of the intersection so we drove through and pulled into the gas station cross the street. The other car and already drove away and there was no way we could have gotten the license plate, but I was in the middle of fumbling for my phone, my hands shaking because of the adrenaline before Zane put his hands over mine.
Another car had stopped, one that hasn’t been in the middle of the road. The people had gotten out and were helping the man stand. The driver was on his phone.
I didn’t call 911. I didn’t call the police. There was nothing more I could do that the other people weren’t already doing. And still I wonder if there was something I could have, should have, done.
I’ve bought soup for homeless people outside of gas stations before. I have given money to people before, and I do small little things now and again.
But there are times where I question if I would really help when it mattered, when it counted.
Why do I think people hesitated to help Mr. Tale-Yax?
I think we hesitate to help others because we worry. What will happen if we help? What risk is there to us? Is it worth the risk?
A lot of the time I think we rationalize it out. It’s not our problem. They got themselves into that mess, let them get themselves out. We have enough stress in our lives without taking on someone else’s issues.
It’s easier, simpler, to stay wrapped up in our own worlds. It’s easier to be distinct and less empathetic. In a way it’s survival instinct. It’s safer to avoid whatever put the other person in that situation, or to assume that they themselves are not a threat.
I don’t like acknowledging that trait within myself, within others, but it’s there. And I feel that is why most people don’t help others, even when it is obvious that something is wrong.
Do I think people should try to help strangers in distress?
Yes. I do. I think about, “If I were in that situation, would I want someone to help me?”
Yes. I would. I would want someone to call the police if I was attacked on the street. I would want someone to try to help me if I were getting stabbed. I would want someone to care for me even though they don’t know who I am.
I would like for someone to think that my life is important and worth protecting simply for the fact that I exist, because I’m breathing.
I guess if I want people to do that for me I should try to do that more for others.