Since my return to Intrepid Media after an almost two year absence I’ve been able to crank out some of the most off-the-wall articles.
I’ve shown you how a little Jesus talk during Shabbat can get ugly, I’ve written an entire article as an instant message, I’ve taken you through the pain of remembering a life taken too early and even channeled Paris Hilton’s hair only to shed it all over your favorite black outfit.
Since this is my last article for 2006, I want to try something different—yet again. I’m going to talk to you like you’re here; as if we’re in the same room. Maybe we’re in a coffee shop or a dark jazz hall with nothing but a spotlight on a stage and music playing along with our conversation.
Maybe we’re closing down a bar at 3am and it’s just us, some drinks and a smooth Everything But the Girl beat or slow Cat Power song playing overhead while the wait staff cleans around us.
So, let’s talk.
Oh, I have to tell you, I was driving to work one morning this last week, still waking up, you know, still yawning and shit. Then I see, out of nowhere, this Ford SUV-looking thing with a wobbling back tire. I think it was on the right side. It wobbled so much I just wanted to get around it before it wobbled its way over to me.
It was crazy because I had a flashback to a family vacation where we saw this car behind us lose a wheel and shake all the way over to the shoulder of the road. I remember crapping a hole in my pants wondering if that happens to every family like us driving to Tampa, but then all I could think about was if the family: the dad, the mom, the three kids in back and if they would be OK.
I asked my Dad why we didn’t stop to help them and you know what he told me? He said they’ll be fine because on that stretch of road just inside the state of Florida there were call boxes posted every few miles. I still thought we should have stopped, but we were “making good time.” That’s a total Dadism.
So anyway, as I was driving around this SUV with the wobbly wheel I looked at the passenger and there was this little kid sitting there. His dad was probably taking him to school or something and it hit me; midway through driving around them I started thinking about that trip to Tampa all those years ago. What if the wheel came off and they crashed into something or someone? Would I stop and help? Why didn’t I try to meet them at the next light and roll down my window and tell them about the wheel?
I kept driving. I just put it out of my mind and I kept driving. Later I realized I probably wasn’t the only person to see that wobbly tire that morning and not say anything.
Do we not say anything because we don’t want to get involved? Is a quiet drive to work more important than the safety of a fellow human being?
When did we stop taking care of each other?
I can’t answer for you, maybe you would have said something to the driver, but I know I didn’t. And I didn’t do it not just once, but twice.
I guess traffic patterns shifted and the SUV ended up in front of me on a side road trying to get downtown. The slate was clean, I could finally say something at the next light or stop sign.
But I didn’t. I just didn’t.
Somehow, at some point I stopped thinking like that kid I used to be. I stopped thinking about what it means to have personal responsibility for people outside my circle.
And ain’t a bitch that it’s the Holiday season and I still didn’t say anything to the driver. I don’t know what this means, but I still feel awful for not doing something to help those people.
What would you have done?
Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...
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12.18.06 @ 11:22a
Tried to shoot out the tire with my air rifle.
12.18.06 @ 11:24a
Oh good. See? Progress.
12.18.06 @ 11:58a
I'd like to think I'da said something. On the one hand, a couple weeks ago I stuck my head into a stranger's office here at work to tell her her keys were still in her door's lock. In my world that would mean I'd left them there by accident and would tear the place apart looking for them. But she said yes, she keeps them there at the end of the day so she doesn't leave without them. I'd like to think I was being more altruistic than curious about her - she's the new hot secretary on the hall.
On the other hand, making good time trumps just about everything.
12.18.06 @ 12:38p
Because I have this earth mother persona that crops up when I least expect it, I prolly would have honked my horn and tried to tell them about the wobbly wheel. I tell people when their fly's not zipped, or there's spinach in their teeth, or their hair is sticking up in a way I'm sure they didn't mean for it to be. It may just be a part of being nosy and bossy, but I like to think of it as compassion.
12.18.06 @ 12:41p
I'd say something. In fact, I did something similiar just the other night. Woman had her double-flashers on in a left-hand turn lane, so I pulled up alongside and asked her if she needed help.
She looked at me as if I just flicked a booger at her, put down her Twinkie and said, "WHY? Do I LOOK like I NEED HELP?"
"Um, your double-flashers are on. I thought you might be stalled or something."
Her: "OH. Well, NO. But THANKS."
"Yep. Noooo problem."
I'd say something again, though. I would.
12.18.06 @ 7:38p
I'm with Sandra, though in my case I know it's usually nosiness and bossiness... but sometimes it is compassion. Moving very slowly out of a crowded parking lot some time ago, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a man at my driver's side window, gesturing wildly. I cracked my window very slightly, because I'm paranoid that way, and he said, "Ma'am, your brake light on the driver's side is out." I thought that was awful nice of him.
12.18.06 @ 10:49p
I recently lost my compassion for my fellow human beings. If I don't know you, you're on your own. I probably wouldn't have noticed anything other than the annoying oversized vehicle, and tried to ignore it. The wobbly wheel might catch my eye, and I might think, gee I hope it doesn't blow out causing the suv to flip over in front of me and inconvenience me with a traffic jam.
I'm working on being heartless in the new year. I think I've got a good head start.