Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Most people are cowards, lacking the will to act

These people should be completely ashamed of themselves. Tonight an old man stumbled into the same Metro-North [edit: the same Metro-North train car, I meant to say] I was sitting in. He was dressed in a nice shirt and pants, tie, clean sweater, and an expensive London Fog overcoat. And from how he walked, how he struggled to put his coat on the overhead rack and how he plopped into his seat, he was clearly a bit inebriated. I wonder how he got onto our train, because it was on a lower level. He must have taken an elevator, or else someone helped him down the ramp and stairs.

Because he was dressed nicely, I figured he's just some old chap who went out with the boys and had one too many. He wasn't causing anyone any harm, just sitting in his seat at the same end of the car I was on, opposite side. He paid cash, so it likely wasn't his usual ride, and presumably he was too inebriated to stand in line to purchase a ticket (buying on-board has a surcharge, discouraging passengers from taking up the conductor's time).

At our second stop, he started to disembark. I started to worry, because he was halfway out the door but had forgotten his coat! Luckily someone told him the name of the station, and it apparently wasn't his stop. He started moving slowly back to his seat.

Well, I did the decent thing: I went over to see if he was ok, to ask where he was getting off, and to help him put his coat on so he wouldn't forget. His stop was the end of the line, where conductors make sure everybody disembarks (and hopefully they helped him get a taxi if necessary). But I was mostly concerned that he not forget his coat, with this weather. It wasn't that cold, but alcohol allows more body heat to escape, and he could get hypothermia if he wandered around too long without a coat.

Nobody else, and I mean nobody else, did a single blessed thing to help. Everyone was so deliberately tuned out that they didn't even look up! After the first stop, a lot of people got off the packed car. A 40-ish bespectacled guy and 20-something girl had been sitting next to the old man, and they both took the opportunity to move to new seats. After I helped the old fellow with his coat, I whispered to the other man, "I guess he had too much." He didn't say a word; he just didn't want to get involved. Never mind the kid, who appeared more interested in her music than anything else.

But I guess my action didn't go completely unnoticed. The man sitting in front of me, I'd guess 50ish, turned around, gave me a thumbs up and said, "You did a good thing." I simply replied, "Well, somebody had to."

What I didn't say (and probably should have said) was, "Why didn't you do something?"

Our train is almost always one of the newer models, but tonight's was an old one. Usually I sit in the last car, except that on older trains the last car has a lavatory whose smell spreads throughout, so on older trains I sit in the penultimate car. If it hadn't been an older train, if I hadn't sat in that penultimate car, who would have helped the old man?

Goddamn sheep. People have been so bred by government to let "authorities" take care of others, whether welfare workers or police officers. People don't want to get their hands dirty in doing actual things for others. People are afraid to get involved, like a few years ago when a punk attacked a man and his pregnant girl on the subway. Everybody else fled to the other side of the car. Then as tonight, these people should be ashamed of themselves. The pity is that they probably won't realize it.

I'm not writing this tonight to say I'm a saint. I'm not writing this to say you have to rescue people from violent attackers. I'm just saying to ask yourself: "Who is my neighbor?"

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2 Comments:

Blogger jk said...

This is yet another side effect of passing all of our burdens on to government. Your fellow passengers expect someone in authority to handle these things -- after all, they pay taxes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Seerak said...

This is a side effect of a society that goes on and on about unchosen moral obligations to others.

That makes others into the sword of Damocles hanging over your life; at any moment, moral "duty" may strike, demanding that you put your own life and values on pause (if not sacrifice them outright) for the benefit of any random stranger.

One way to avoid that, of course, is to carefully not notice that others exist, lest one discover that they need any sort of help.

Of course, that just adds to the possibility that others can be a direct physical threat as well.

Hence, the best way to protect yourself on the subway is don't see, don't be seen.

Don't see, lest you be put on the spot of asserting your right to exist for your own sake; and don't be seen, lest you be put on the spot of having to fight for it.

"Don't get involved."

:P

Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:27:00 PM  

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