A few weeks ago I was out having dinner at an Italian restaurant when a fight broke out outside the pub next door. The mob grew bigger and chairs got thrown and a guy was knocked unconscious. Being at the back of the restaurant, I didn't like to go and 'gape' but after a few minutes, gape I did. Mainly because a woman at the table next to us was shouting at the waiter to "close the blinds, I don't want to see that kind of thing". When I went up to the window, I asked the other 'gapers' whether anyone had called the police. People looked away and shook their heads - the fight had been going on for a good five minutes! So I called the police and they arrived within a couple of minutes and all was well in the world again.
It got me thinking about people, and about myself. I couldn't have sat there and shut the blinds, knowing what was going on outside, yet the woman at the next table was seriously suggesting that this was a valid thing to do.
This morning as I walked to my bus stop on the way to work, I noticed a couple of lads across the street being aggressive towards a woman in her late 40s. She had learning difficulties and was getting quite vocal and upset. Instead of walking away, the boys started pushing her and eventually spat on her. They SPAT on her. The woman hit one of the boys on the arm and his response? He went to punch her. At this point, I ran across the road and stepped in betweeen the boys and the woman. The woman was sobbing and hanging on to me as I calmly asked the still abusive lads to walk on.
They eventually walked away and I took the woman to her local college where she was late for a class and then carried on to work.
Now I sit here and I ask myself... was I stupid or was I doing the right thing? It doesn't always pay to be a good Samaritan. But why do people respond so differently to situations? Out of the twenty or so people on the street this morning, there was only myself and one other man who went to help. Is it because of the media reporting so many situations where getting involved has been the wrong thing to do?
Or is it just because we have been brought up to 'walk on by'?