I am sitting here stunned by the lack of humanity in the world right now. No, not because of the current President of the United States, or even the Nike controversy.
But instead, I’m stunned because of the events in my personal life that I watched unfold yesterday.
I was driving to the grocery store – a regularly occurring event in my life. Typically it is a rather boring outing, but a necessary one.
As I was stopped waiting to make a left-hand turn, I noticed a middle-aged man who was out for a run suddenly collapsed. He appeared to crumple to the ground, grabbing his arm and chest.
I immediately assumed he was having a heart attack.
As I was sitting in the middle of the intersection, I safely made my left-hand turn then immediately pulled over and ran to him. Now, I know am not the person you want at your aid in the moment of a medical distress, but I am rather confident that I know how to dial 911. So, I thought the least I could do is see if he was okay and call 911 for help.
By the time I got to him, 1 other pedestrian, a little old lady probably in her 90s, was jogging over to him.
He was sitting up at this point, and still holding his arm/chest. Between the little old lady and myself, we quickly ascertained that he had tripped and fell. The impact of the fall hurt his shoulder. He was not having a heart attack and he assured me he was able to walk home. I think his ego was bruised more then his shoulder.
But here’s what get’s me. I was not the only one in the intersection at the time. But, I was the only car who stopped.
In fact, there was probably over 10 cars who witnessed what I witnessed. Which means at least 10 people, if not more, saw this unfold.
How could 10+ people drive past what was clearly an injured person? What is our world coming to? Were people just afraid to stop because it meant they could hurt him more? Or were people unwilling to stop because it would mean they’d be late for something they deemed more important then someone else’s life?
I guess, rather then focusing on the sad part of humanity, I should be thankful there are still little old ladies out there trying to help people in need. I guess, if my kid or my husband or my parents are the ones ever in need, I just better hope that one of the good people are nearby to help.
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There’s this fascinating psychological phenomenon when something like this happens called the bystander effect. Basically, when in a crowd, people are less likely to initiate help because they assume someone else will. There are ways to combat it. If you are part of the crowd, you are more likely to help if you have already experienced something like that or have a plan in place if it does happen. If you are the person in need of help, grabbing the attention of one person through eye contact and direct request usually will knock them out of the effect.
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This is interesting as I run a lot of marathons and have seen people trip and get injured, collapse, etc. I will usually stop and try to figure out what is needed, call 911, etc. But just last weekend, I didn’t stop during a race when I saw someone was on the ground, clearly in need of help. But, another runner was already on the phone with 911 and there were several people talking to the injured gentlemen. Other than be someone standing around, I didn’t feel as though there was anything I could do. I second guessed my decision the rest of the race but, even looking back now, I don’t know what I could have done to help in that situation.
I’m doing my best to not pay attention to the ridiculous current events. I am glad you stopped to see if he needed help. Other people might not have seen, but likely a good number of them didn’t want to get involved for various reasons. So, let’s talk about how awesome you are and that you are not the sole awesome person out there. There are more of us. One time, I saw a man fall to the ground having a seizure. He fell on top of a plastic crate used for 2 liters of pop. I ran up to and managed to get the crate out from under him. A few other people came to help and I was dismissed as they were bigger and older. I felt bad having not stayed but also I believe I left him in capable hands. Remember what Mr Rogers said, and look for the helpers.
Bystander effect. Taught about this in psych. If you don’t the story of Kitty Genovese it will break your heart. I’m glad there are still people willing to stop and help. It doesn’t surprise me you did so.
Some didn’t see it happen. Some didn’t realize what they had seen for a few minutes and were already past. Some saw you stop and felt therefore they didn’t need to. Some knew they were old/infirm/sick/unable to help for such physical reasons. And some either did not care did not feel involved or had other obligations we cannot guess at. ~ possibly including small children in car.
Don’t guess. Don’t give up on people. Know you did your best when you could because you could.
Thank you for helping!
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This is what I was thinking too. I’m not the most observant person to begin with and having my kids in the car is a complete distraction sometimes. They tell me things they see that I completely missed!
Wow just wow. Thank you for helping.
You are an amazing person for stopping and helping this elderly man. I want to give you the biggest high five for it. I, like you, would stop as well. Now that I have my Level 2 First Aid qualifications I’m actually required by law to stop and help someone in distress. Which adds a whole new level of stress to it.
A little story that will equally take away your belief in humanity, as it did mine. My mom was out for a run just over a year ago and she tripped on a piece of sidewalk that had popped up. She landed flat on her face. Her face was ripped up from hitting the ground and bleeding everywhere. She landed hard on her hip as well. The insane part is that she tripped right near a bus stop that had about 8 people standing at it. And guess how many people raced over to help her up. Not a single one. My mom was lying on the ground, blood running down her face, unable to stand on her own, not moving and not a single person helped her. She lay there for about a minute before she was strong enough to stand herself up. She then hobbled the whole way home while using her spare shirt as a cloth to clot the blood pouring out of her face. She cried the entire way. When it comes to a situation like this one, where she was immobile on the ground for at least two minutes, it has nothing to do with the bystander effect that people talk about. Because, if it was that, after a minute of seeing no one was helping, SOMEONE would have gone to her. In this case it was a clear case of a lack of humanity. They could have all had their noses in their phones. They could have figured she was fine and just not bothered. I truly don’t care what happened, because all I know that in this particular situation, all 8 of them should feel massively ashamed of themselves for not helping a 58 year old woman, with blood rushing down her face and in tears. It clearly still enrages me.
That’s really disappointing and enraging! None of them thought it could have been themnor their mother?! But, i have to say, unfortunately, the humanity is less and less. Last year, i had a terrible back pain. I walked with a difficulty, worse than an old person. My husband was away and i had to take our toddler out. We went to a nearby mall and he decided to misbehave. He sat on the floor and didnt want to move. I was trying to convince him to stand up because i couldn’t pull him or lift him up. At one point, being in so much pain and helpless, i started to cry….it was in front of a supermarket. People saw me, but noone bothered to approach and asked what was wrong. I’m definitely not such a type. I would have approached had i seen such a situation. However, i will have to be careful with my child when teaching him about helping others because now, many child abductors pretend to need help or for ex asking for directions,. Children shouldn’t be helpint anyone when alone.
OH man. I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. I would have rushed over to check on you if I saw that. If there is one thing I can’t ignore, it’s a mom who clearly is at her breaking point or showing many signs of needing help or support.
You’re so right. How do we teach the balance with our kids of talking to them about helping others in need vs. how to watch for predators who are acting. It’s a tough one.
A similar thing happened to me a few years ago- I ran to help someone who collapsed on the side of the road. Same thing – hardly anyone stopped!!!
When I lived in Washington DC I got mugged, thrown to the ground, and had my arm broken. It was rush hour with tons of traffic going by and not one person stopped. And a few years ago my husband sprained an ankle running and collapsed. People working in their yard across the street and a guy on the same side of the road totally ignored him. He had to call me to pack up a newborn in the car and come pick him up from the side of the road. And we live in a small Midwest town, so you’d think people would be more helpful… People suck.