Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Would You Do?

This morning, I felt like I was walking through a scene set-up for ABC's show "What Would You Do?" - and failed miserably.

Here's what happened: At my place of employment, I park in a covered garage. I was walking from my car to the building entrance, when I heard slamming of a door and a man' s voice, clearly agitated. As I got closer to the noise, I saw a man either loading or unloading a wheel chair-bound woman from the car. He was slamming the passenger back door and yelling, throwing what appeared to be pieces of the wheel chair (the foot rests?) in the backseat. The woman, who I did not see but heard, sounded like an elderly woman in distress. She kept yelling "Stop it! Stop it!" and then something else. It didn't seem that the man was physically violent toward her, but was verbally abusive. But from a few second snippet, I could not truly tell what the situation was.

I looked over at him, surprised to see and hear what was going on. He looked back. I kept walking.

As soon as I passed them, something in me said to go back. See if everything is ok. But I didn't.

Afterward, it took everything inside of me to not cry. It really bothered me the rest of the day. What if something was really going on there, and that woman needed help? I can't say that I'm proud of my action...but what could I have done? I could have said something to him, but then what? Would I report the man to building security? Would I call 911? What? Was it even my place to say something? I'll never know.

Elder abuse is something that should never be tolerated. EVER. I think of my own grandparents, who both turn 90 tomorrow. Every senior out there could be my grandparent when I think about it, so I want them all protected. So, why on earth did I let that situation go this morning?

I know this morning's incident will stay with me for a long time. I would like to know, what would you have done if you were in my shoes?


Mariecel said...

This reminds me of a report I saw here done about the "Good Samarian" law, and how often it is broken. A robbery was staged in a relatively busy city square, where two "dangerous"-looking youths were really roughing up a young woman, and would you believe it - most people just stood around and watched!

I get that you would be scared to take on those guys on your own - I would, especially as I am almost exclusively out with my little ones - but I would have whipped out my phone and called the police at the very least! And take a video whilst I am at it.

On the flip side of your story, I just wrote a post on elderly criminals in Japan.

Sarah said...

I think just about anyone would have done what you did. Because it's scary, because you are taught to mind your own business, because it's just what we do.

With hindsight and time to think about it, yes, it would have been nice to walk up and politely ask if there was anything they could use a hand with, something like that.

But this stuff is hard.

This reminds me of a story I read on another blog of a woman's intervening. You might like to read it:

House of Panes said...

When I was a kid, my older teenaged brother Marc saw someone take an old woman's purse and he chased after the guy, tackled him and returned the purse to the woman. I still feel it was a crazy move. His automatic choice was and still is impressive and heroic to me. It made me proud to be his little sister.

When I was driving home a couple years ago in Cambridge during the summer late at night, I heard a couple fighting and it sounded scary and abusive. Unsure if I should intervene, I remember being nervous judging if it warranted calling the police. I chose to call 911. The cool thing was that 2 other calls had occurred moments earlier and the police were on there way.

Knowing when to intervene is tricky. I have not intervened each time I was faced with the choice.