Thursday, 4 September 2008

No good samaritan badge for me.

Despite the daylight robbery at the show, I have decided that I won't move to the city in search of a crime free life, but will stay on my hillside and instead live a carrot free life. (In addition it is a neighbouring village show this weekend and I am going to go with my swag bag and see if there is anything as fine as my entries that I might purloin for myself......)

A strange thing happened while I was in London this week. I was driving a friend home to her house in Shepherds Bush on Sunday night. The sky was unnaturally dark as huge thunderheads had gathered above us. Every now and then lightning flickered around us and I was looking forward to getting back to said house for a large glass of wine and some catching up. We were travelling along behind a car which suddenly, with no warning and no recognisable reason turned hard right. Straight into a bollard and a set of pedestrian lights which imploded all over the street.

Now if I saw something like that happen here I would

a) be astonished that we suddenly had actual bollards and pedestrian lights
b) stop to see what I could do to help.

But this was London. As we sat with our mouths open in stunned amazement, the driver's door opened and the driver emerged. He grinned in a challenging way at the traffic building up behind him and seemed to think that totalling his car (which he assuredly had) was the best thing that had happened to him all day. Any thoughts I had had of leaping out of the car and practising my first aid fled. I put the car back into gear, manouvered round him and left the scene.

This decision is niggling at me. I left because the whole situation was bizarre, erratic and faintly threatening - the only reason to have swerved into a traffic light and then laugh about it struck me as being because he was drunk or high as a kite and I didn't want to get mixed up in it. I also rather cravenly felt that there were plenty of other people who could deal with the aftermath. I mean the driver wasn't carrying his limbs or acting remotely like somebody off Holby City but equally I didn't check how anyone else in the car was, or for that matter if there was anyone else in the car. I just fled.

Although it was probably a harmless decision in the overall scheme of things I know that I would have reacted totally differently if the accident happened on a country road. Here it would feel instinctive to help regardless, not just for me but for the majority of the locals. (There are a couple of curmudgeonly farmers who might cheer with joy at the scene of an accident but they put mantraps at the bottom of the chimney for father Christmas). That urge to stop and help probably explains why every minor incident ends with most of the village gathered around offering help, advice, prize winning jam and strong drink.

I lived in London for years and during all that time I never felt unsafe or particularly threatened, even when somebody broke through the front door with a knife (he was a bit of an idiot actually). But five years of living away from the seething mass of people that makes up London has made it all seem overwhelming and aggressive. I can't decide if the fact that I felt afraid was a sign of good sense, or a newly developed rural narrow mindedness.

It doesn't change the fact that I didn't choose to help but instead I quite literally crossed to the other side of the street and moved on. Hence, no good samaritan merit badge for me.


katyboo1 said...

I once went to a talk by a man who was a criminal psychologist and he was talking about how we protect ourselves. He said that we all have an unerring instinct for things which are dangerous to us and the stupid people are the people that squash that instinct and carry on regardless.

I'm sure if someone had been bleeding out over the dashboard or obviously distressed you would have helped. As it was, you quite rightly sussed the fact that all was not well and moved swiftly on.

Sounds fair to me.

Bevchen said...

That guy sounds very, very odd to me. You definitely did the right thing. And it's not like he was bleeding everywhere or anything. If he had been I'm sure you would have helped.

Anonymous said...

I really understand your dilemma both practically and mentally. It's probably no comfort to you that I would have acted the same as you did. Remember you can't be too careful and must look after yourself.
It was obviously the crazed smile which made up your mind!
Wendy (Wales)

Welsh Girl said...

Ok - so maybe I can shed a little of the Catholic guilt - Katyboo - what were you doing at a talk with a criminal psychologist?????????

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