If a stranger in the street needed help, would you help them? I’m sure close to 100 per cent of people would say yes. But so often when these instances occur, the help isn’t willing.
I crashed my car recently (and feel really bad about the two-hour traffic jam on Kings Avenue!). Three cars were involved and mine copped the worst damage. The front of the car was smashed in and the airbags deployed, smacking me in the face (fortunately my nose was not broken and all my teeth remain intact) and filling my car up with a dusty substance that could easily be mistaken for smoke. I was in total shock and sat there dizzy and unable to move.
I turned my head to the side and saw two pedestrians peering through the window at me. They didn’t ask if I was okay, let alone help me get out of the car. They had a good look and walked off. Fortunately another car stopped and a nice guy helped me out of my car then opened the passenger door and collected my wallet, phone, and the other miscellaneous crap in my handbag that had been strewn all over the floor.
A friend of mine has a medical condition with the nerves in his feet which causes him to occasionally take a fall. He has fallen over several times in public and is unable to get back up without a bit of assistance. People don’t rush to his aid, he has to specifically ask passers-by to give him a hand up and the majority of them ignore him and he has to ask five or six people for help before he’s back on his feet.
Why are people like this? I’ve never been in the position where I’ve witnessed a crash or someone taking a fall, so it puzzles me why people wouldn’t jump in to help. Do people not care, or do they figure that someone else will do it?
I was at Manuka Coles once and a disabled man in a wheelchair needed help to reach washing machine powder and to identify which was top loader and which was front loader. He asked a woman to help him and she ignored him and walked off. I was the next closest person so I helped him. It took about 45 seconds out of my day to grab two boxes, explain the difference, pass one to him and put the other one back on the shelf. It wasn’t some great humanitarian act on my part, the guy just needed help.
I like to think the majority of us are kind-hearted, but does this kindness only apply to our friends and family? People that we don’t know seem to get ignored. I wondered whether the situation of someone needing help takes people by surprise and perhaps they don’t know how to deal with an unexpected crisis.
Similar to when fights break out or a couple has a loud argument in public, perhaps people don’t step in because they think it’s not their business, and possibly don’t want to risk copping a fist to the face if it’s that kind of fight.
When it comes to every day incidents like helping someone up after a fall or helping someone out of a smoky car, surely there’s no danger involved in that. There’s not really any excuse to not help someone in need. Next time you see someone in distress perhaps we stop and ask ourselves would we be grateful for the kindness of a stranger if it were us in their position instead of them?