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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sometimes You Just Gotta Decide


There was a period, this summer, when I was between addresses.  Dismayed and broken, I struggled with my role in the world.

Through the good graces of my friend Sarah, I lived for a time in the North Loop of the Minneapolis Warehouse District, a neighborhood in transition, more upscale than it used to be, not as gentrified as it will become.  My morning walk to the bus stop took me down mysteriously sticky sidewalks littered with flyers advertising exotic dancers, over railroad tracks, past people who forgot to pick up after their dogs.

And so I am standing next to my new bus stop one morning when I raise my head long enough to see a man sitting on the steps of a business across the street.

Four lanes away, two in each direction, it is just me and him for at least two blocks in each direction.  I stare at him, wonder what he is doing, why he is sitting, when I notice that he is not well.

Strange noises come from him.  His head tics in an arc, returning over and over to retrace its line of motion.  He struggles to stand and fails.

“Hey,” I whisper.

I pull my phone out of my purse to dial “911” when both an ambulance and a police car pull up. 

Someone has already called.

Across the street, I cannot hear them speaking, but their actions are clear.  Hey Buddy, the cop says exiting his car.  How ya doin’?  You in some trouble?

The man’s head continues to bob, to follow the arc he must track.

The ambulance driver squats next to him.  He holds up fingers.  Can you see my fingers?  Do you know what day it is?

The man does not appear to see him.

The squatting EMT puts a hand on the man’s shoulders, runs it up and down his back.  Don’t worry,  I imagine him saying, We’re gonna take care of you.  He stands, joins the other EMT at the back of the ambulance as they unload a Gurney.

I watch this from the bus stop, four lanes across from them.

And I watch as a man in his early 30s pulls up on a 10-speed bike.  He stops.  The police, the EMTS, they don’t see him, but I do.  He pulls out his phone.

And begins to film the man on the steps.  He walks from side to side, films from different angles as emergency personnel lift him to the Gurney.

Hot anger fills my head.  “Hey,” I say.  “You can’t do that.  Hey.”

I step into the street – and step back.

They don’t need my help.

The cop sees the man, moves toward him rapidly.  Arms out, he shoos him away.  Go on, I suppose him to be saying, Keep movin’, pal.

The man on the bike holds the camera in front of the cop, uses the other to gesture a foot or two away.  What if I move here, he motions.

The cop waves him off brusquely, raises his voice, and now I can hear him.  “I said MOVE IT, buddy.  You’re not helping.”

The man on the bike puts his camera away, gets on his bike only to call something out over his shoulder as he pedals away.

The cop waves him off with a dismissive hand gesture, returns to the ambulance in time to see them close the doors.

And the bus rolls up and the doors open.  

50 comments:

jabblog said...

I often wonder how people can calmly film accidents and emergencies. For a war correspondent it's forgivable, even necessary,but for the passer-by it's simply an opportunity to post something on YouTube.

Pearl said...

jabblog, I'm with you. I've thought of that morning so many times, wondered about the kind of person who thought it acceptable to film a man in distress. For what purpose?

haphazardlife said...

Much as I love my phone with all its bells and whistles, I hate how nowadays there is always someone to film anything that happens and post it on YouTube. I can just imagine the day I'll walk into a lamp post, or wipe out when I step off the sidewalk (as I am wont to do) and end up on YouTube as someone's joke of the day.

Rene Foran said...

Technology. Supposed to make our lives easier but somehow they ended up sleazier.

Shelly said...

The best in people and the worst in people wrapped up in the same incident. And you, my friend, are the best of the best.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Well, two out of three people wanted to help...the person who called 911, and yourself who would have. Two out three ain't bad these dark and troubled days.

Pearl said...

It's true I would've helped, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to interview the guy who thought it somehow appropriate to film someone's distress...

As for the ubiquitous phone-camera, I can only say how glad I am that it wasn't around in my younger years. :-)

Leenie said...

There's so many changes and tears you must hide...

With ubiquitous cameras and stupefied people that's becoming quite a challenge.

TexWisGirl said...

what kind of youtube audience are you hoping for, guy? move along, you able-bodied biker...

Perpetua said...

I think some people have forgotten the difference between TV and real life, Pearl. The cyclist's indifference to someone else's distress and right to privacy makes my skin crawl.

Silliyak said...

But how are YOU doing Pearl? I worry.

vanilla said...

Pearl, really the insensitive person is not a surprising element in your story, given that we have all ceded our privacy to the greater technologically "enhanced" world in which we live. Like you, I'm glad this sort of thing appeared later in my life rather than sooner. Better had it not appeared at all?

fmcgmccllc said...

What a pig.

Andrea SunnyDays said...

I wonder how many people passed the man by without even a glance that maybe they should help him. And for someone to film him? Just disgusting.

Mandy_Fish said...

My first thought was maybe the guy with the camera thought the sick guy was being abused by the police or the ambulance and was filming it in case he needed evidence? I guess I'm a bit of a Pollyanna.

Ms Sparrow said...

How awful to have in existence a permanent record of a vulnerable moment. Which leads me to wonder if the patient wasn't a vulnerable adult who was being exploited by the jerk with the camera. In that case, it seems like the cop should have confiscated said camera-phone!

fishducky said...

There's an old saying, "You can't make a silk necklace out of a pig's ear." You're the necklace & he's the pig!

sage said...

What a way to begin a morning--good for you for calling for help even though someone beat you to it. And that guy on a bike was a jerk.

Belle said...

I've seen people filming accidents etc. too. I think it's an invasion of privacy.

Lynn said...

Filming someone else's misfortune. that guy was a jerk, as Sage says. I'm glad you were willing to help.

jenny_o said...

Yep, it's not the technology that's bad, it's the people who have never been taught any better behavior.

Some days I think we're losing the battle and some days I think we're winning. And I think it has always been this way, and always will be.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

And there you were, ready to walk right in and confront this jerk, apparently ready to fight him with your fists if necessary. I do admire that about you, but I'm glad you realized the police could handle him! And you, how are you doing now?

Joanne said...

This has happened a few times to me and I am always left with an unbelievable wanting to know if they are alright, did they make it, did they have family? As for the guy on the bike shame on him...I secretly hope he dropped his camera and broke it.
Thank you for your recent comment on my blog!
Blessings, Joanne

Mom of A and a said...

just amazing the way some people think...or don't think!

Douglas said...

It's possible the guy on the bike was thinking (maybe secretly hoping) the cops were responsible for the guy's distress.

Fishducky, it's "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear" but your meaning is spot on.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

At least some passerby (like yourself) actually contacted the emergency services, that doesn't always happen.

I wish the cop would have let the cyclist take pictures (internally, of his (the cyclist's)rectum)

Glen said...

A distressing sign of the times -- I'll give you this one -- and this is a fact.

Last week in British press we spotted a report about three men.
No - three heroes.
The paper declared them as such.
There had been an accident and a car had caught fire. Someone was trapped in the car.

The three heroes were all identified and the story had continued.

The first hero had run up and attempted to put out the fire, the second had dragged out the stricken lady - saving her life.

The third? Well he just filmed it.

They were all together and all named as heroes.

Work that one out if you can

Geo. said...

You did good, Pearl. Cops and EMTs are trained to detect signs of stroke, trauma, etc., but somebody has to get them there. You may have saved a life.

Pearl said...

Funny how we have similar views of this. I, too, wondered if the camera man thought he might be "helping" somehow, maybe thinking that the emergency vehicles were somehow messing with this guy -- until I saw the smirk.

Glen, I do NOT understand how the man filming was a "hero". Some words really do need to have some integrity, and we bandy the word around and use it so often that it loses its meaning. The first two were heroes. The last guy filmed it. Sheesh.

Overall, I AM doing better. Good days and bad days. Funny, how a bunch of good days strung together can lead you to believe that everything is better, only to have proof of just how alone you are leap up and slap you in the face. I know I am not truly alone, but some days, oh don't it feel like it?

Jacquelineand.... said...

Pearl, thank you for caring enough to be concerned and want to do the right thing for this man.

I hate camera phones with, I believe, good reason...(not to be a downer here). As an example: last year, before my movement disorders were diagnosed and properly medicated, a young woman pulled out her camera phone while I was attempting to do the grocery shopping and loudly announced that she had to get video of 'that'..pointing at me. It wasn't the first time something of that nature, or worse, had happened in the seven years leading up to my diagnosis.

Does it compare with recording someone in the throes of acute illness/injury? No. But it is indicative of the nature of the beast.

The best way to deal with it? For the rest of us to keep being as decent as we can whilst sharing a good laugh; both of which you are very good at promulgating Pearl.

On behalf of both myself and the unknown man: thank you.

Meeling said...

Sheesh!! What's wrong with people. That's not a time to be whipping out your phone for anything other than dialing 911.

Camera phones are great if you realize your actual camera is in the car and you're at your kids school play or your cat suddenly starts cartwheeling past you - but NOT at a time like this. Boo on him!!

Laoch of Chicago said...

As our surveillance society continues to evolve I guess everything will be filmed in a short time from now.

Susan Kane said...

Poor old man! I hope he got the help he needed.

As for the man on the bike, I hope he gets his 'just desserts' for being a jerk.

Indigo Roth said...

At times I long for the days when the cops beat fellas like that upside the head with a nightstick and stole his camera.

Stephen Hayes said...

The world we live in is becoming stranger and stranger, helped along by all this technology.

mapstew said...

Sad. Some folk are just very sad. :/

xxx

Gigi said...

Ah, Pearl....you seem to have some kind of special attraction to the "commenter" above as "he" visits you so often! ;-)

I am simply appalled at the lack of respect and empathy that people seem to have these days (all of us excluded, of COURSE).

bill lisleman said...

Now I wonder if that biker and the boycott women are related. People have become rude, no respect for each other. Maybe it's reality TV. Maybe too much sugar. I wonder what the biker would have thought if you had filmed him filming the accident.

Joanne Noragon said...

We've all been exposed to similar situations, done what we could and moved on when not needed. Our parents would have said "We're no longer needed,' and steered us away. Now we're a plant of children who had no parenting.

Linda O'Connell said...

I have a camera phone but I am too dumb to figure out my smart phone. This guy had some nerve.

Rose L said...

First, what is this with the guy boycotting American women??!!! Me thinks he has a thorn up his___ from a bad relationship.
I never let people like that post on my blog.
Now on to the subject--I am pleased to know I am not the only one who reaches out to help strangers. Most would have ignored him thinking he was drunk or high. But diabetics sometimes can appear like that so always good to seek help for them.
Boo on the "invader" who wanted to film it all.

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh Pearl. This made me weep. Where have we gone wrong that a)someone could do this and b) there is a market for it.
I really, really hope the man on the steps gets/got the help he needs. I also hope that the camera clown gets what he deserves.

River said...

Some people just don't stop to think that one day "that person" could be them and they wouldn't want someone filming the episode to put on the internet.

NotesFromAbroad said...

So one day this twit on a bike will fall, get hit by a car, have an "episode" and will be lying on the ground, hoping for help.
And another twit will come along and photograph him while he lays there.
Karma, eventually it happens.

You are a good person Pearl.. I am glad to know there are people like you in the world. <3

Daisy said...

What Shelly said waaayyy up above!

Pat said...

This leaves me speechless.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Since the magic 6 numbers to win the lotto haven't come to mind, I, like most everyone else I know, have to deal with a butt load of stress. I actually started on Aricept. It helps me.

Pat Tillett said...

Some people are IDIOTS! One of my daughter's husbands is a cop. He says that they get filmed everyday. Sometimes even somebody the pull over for ticket is filming the whole thing.

Eva Gallant said...

Some people are quick to film such things, but would never think of actually doing something to help!

Buttons said...

Oh Pearl I just want to hug you. I know I am a stranger and that may be a little weird but you are my Hero. HUGS B