Oh Friday, how I have longed for your gentle embrace. I have soothed myself, secure in the knowledge that yes, yes indeed, this week really will end.
Unless I get hit by a bus or a meteor today.
I got to sleep in a little this morning. Perhaps I should rephrase that...I got to lounge in bed for a few minutes this morning and listen to the radio. For me, that is the start of a good day.
And then I heard this.
I've been living under a rock lately so perhaps I'm horribly behind the times. Apparently it was also discussed on Talk of the Nation.
I know this isn't anything new. It's been noted throughout history. It's been caught on tape.
What is it in a person that allows them to break free of fear of retribution so they can call the police? What is it in a person that would allow them to stand by and watch, perhaps cheer, perhaps take pictures with a cell phone, of a gang rape?
I think I've told the story before (damned if I'm going to search for it) of when I knew that I had to get out of my marriage. It was years ago. We were driving to the cities and as we drove south, in the northbound lane there were two cars pulled off to the side of the road. There was one guy lying on the pavement and another guy standing over him with a gun to his head.
STBX was driving and as we saw this I told him that he needed to call 911. He told me that he wasn't going to get involved. I was absolutely incredulous. I wasn't asking him to break up the incident, I wasn't asking him to go anywhere near it. I was asking him to call the police to deal with a situation that we obviously didn't understand.
"I don't want them to be able to find out who I am", was his explanation. He was always a conspiracy nut job, always convinced that everyone was out to get him (always playing the victim) and up to that point, I didn't think that there was any reason why he would feel that way. After years of being treated like shit, it took the revelation that not only didn't he give a damn about me, he didn't give a damn about society at large. (This incident has haunted me even more since realizing what he really was hiding. It also makes me think that there was probably even more that he was hiding.)
Not helping others, even actively participating by taking pictures or laughing, it makes me crazy. I suppose if you are unable to empathize and life and death are equal jokes, it really wouldn't be that big of a deal. It makes me wonder if they would have any expectations of others if they were in a similar position. In all reality, my guess would be no.
But I'm also thinking that there are people that are just too scared or too comfortable in their own ruts to allow for unexpected occurrences. I was on the city bus once when a young woman got on who had obviously been involved in a domestic assault. She flung herself onto the bus as her attacker screamed at her from the sidewalk. He chased the bus, continuing to scream profanities, as she stood in the aisle and scanned the crowd. No one moved. No one even acknowledged her. Including myself.
She then pulled the signal and the bus stopped, right in front of where the guy had stopped at the corner. She turned around and started to walk down the stairs.
I waited until she was halfway out the door to finally break out of my silence and holler to her. I told her that she didn't have to get off the bus.
She never looked back. She just walked up to him and as the bus pulled away, he was grabbing her by the hair and dragging her down the sidewalk.
I could have stopped that. Now, I'm ready. Now I know that I will look the person in the eye, tell them to sit down and let them know that they can rely on me to get them the help that they need. I now know who to call.
But it haunts me and I hope that it always will. I would hope that anyone who hears of a story in the news of bystanders that did nothing would stop and ask themselves, "What would I do?".
Figure it out now. You might not have time to figure it out later.