Monday, June 30, 2008

What Happened To Being Human?

I cannot tell you how many stranded people I see out there on the road while driving around this country. And how many of those people no one helps.

I would pull this rig over on the side of the road to help every person I see. It's just not really possible for me to do because not only is it dangerous, but I can rarely react quickly enough to be of any help to someone. Besides, Ed would yell at me if I stopped on the side of the road like that, and I understand why. What I don't understand, is why other motorists, who have the ability to stop, do not.

Once, about six years ago, I was living in Alexandria, Virginia and on my way home from work. I was on I-495, the loop that goes around Washington, DC. If you've ever been there, you know the number of cars that travel on that Interstate at any given moment. If you haven't ever been there, just imagine the biggest traffic jam you've ever seen in your life (even on TV) slowly moving around a city. It's a nightmare almost any time of day but it's especially hellish during rush hour.

I had a problem with the car and had to pull over to the shoulder. I got out of car to look under the hood (like I knew what I was looking for, but totally didn't) and left the hood raised (to signal distress) before I got back in. I'm sure at least 952 cars passed me in the ten minutes I stood out there looking under the hood and then looking around in despair before I got back in the car to call my boyfriend to come get me, yet not one of them stopped.

I was dressed in a skirt and heels, looking very professional and very female. You'd think the female part would have prompted someone to help since everyone can recognize the modern day equivalent of a damsel in distress. But no, not one person stopped. NOT ONE. Not even to see if I were okay, if I had called for help or if I needed a lift. Disgusting.

To top it off, my phone battery was dying and since I was using our old car, couldn't plug it in to recharge it since the cigarette lighter didn't work. So I called my boyfriend, gave him all the information like an auctioneer and then sat there and read magazines until he showed up. It took him almost an hour to come get me, between the traffic and missing the exit twice in an effort to get on the right side of the road and still, in that entire time, no one stopped to help.

I guess it's the day we live in. Maybe people are afraid of being shot or robbed or whatever. And I know there have been stories of a female luring someone to their vehicle so a male hidden in the back seat or the bushes, could do them harm. And that is too bad. It's really a shame that we even have to think like that.

But what of the car full of old ladies, or the skinny old man trying to change his own tire? Or the young girl sitting on the guard rail waiting for someone to help? Those are people who I'm pretty sure aren't going to take you down if you offer your help. I do it as often as I can, even if it means calling the local police to let them know someone is stranded on a barren stretch of highway or, like in one instance, broken down in the travel lane of a hill I was climbing.

It only takes a moment to be human. More people need to try it.

1 comment:

Angela said...

You used the exact and most accurate word to describe this lack of humanity... Disgusting.

I was at a place on one of my days off a couple months ago and there was an old guy on the side of the road changing his tire. He was nearly done by the time the ol' man and I pulled up...

The guy was on OXYGEN and seemed barely alive enough to have done anything let alone change a friggin' tire. He was very bitter when we asked to help him, but I would be too if I'd been that ill and had to do what he had just done.

It's just disappointing to see what humanity has become. Self absorbed stinking snobs always in a hurry to get no where fast with not a flitter of thought for anyone else along the way.

All we can do is spread a little bit of love with random acts of kindness by helping anyone we can. We can't help them all... as much as we would like. But even one is better than none.