The other night two incidents occurred which have left me feeling unsettled. Unsettled and angry … at myself. I am not the type of person to “walk on by” or “turn a blind eye”. I get involved. Whether that is always good or not doesn’t really matter. Inaction, in my mind, is far worse.
I was in the city centre having a few drinks with a friend. It was a cute little street filled with bars, pubs and restaurants. The ideal location to hop about from one place to another – each with its own ambience. We had just come out of one bar and were discussing where to go next. Then a couple walking away caught my eye just before I saw a waiter step out of the Tapas Bar and call after them. “Excuse me! Excuse me!”. The couple carried on walking very casually. The waiter looked perplexed. I asked my friend “Should we get their attention?”. The reply I got was “No, we shouldn’t get involved. It’s not our business”.
I was torn. I had to very quickly weigh the importance of assisting the stranger/s versus the risk of offending my friend. I mentally debated a tad too long and the couple were too far away to intervene without chasing after them. So I acquiesced to my friend and let it go. But I still didn’t feel comfortable about it.
At first I thought they were skipping out without paying. But their casual nature combined with the waiter’s own relaxed attitude soon got me thinking of other alternatives. Perhaps they left too much money. Maybe one of them left a personal belonging behind. Or dropped something without knowing.
I considered how frustrating it might be for them at the end of the night (or even the next day) to discover something had been lost. What a hassle it might be to “re-trace” their steps to try and find it. And it annoyed me to no end thinking of how I could have just stepped in and potentially saved them the palaver.
But I didn’t so on with the evening I went, shoving the whole thing to the back of my mind. I managed to do that okay and proceeded to have a nice time. Until the second incident arose.
We had picked up a take away and were sat in my car talking when I noticed a man in the street behind us (via my rear view mirror). He had fallen off a bike and was slowly getting up. I continued to watch his progress with some concern. He didn’t seem to be managing the bike very well. He got halfway down the street towards my car and then fell off again. I said to my friend what was happening and the reply once again was “not to get involved” – “it’s not our business” and “it is often more trouble than it’s worth”. There were other people in the street. They were just standing and watching the man but doing nothing. I got angry inside. I knew the man had probably had a few drinks but nonetheless he wasn’t shouting or anything of that sort. I wanted to go see that he was okay and could get home but it was dark out and I didn’t think it would be wise to go over to him on my own.
So I ended the evening. I dropped the friend off and went home. My mind filled with all sorts of thoughts about the evening and in particular the reactions of my friend. I keep saying friend but I don’t really feel like that now. I understand everyone has their own views and whatnot but not too sure I want to be friends with anyone with those views.
Why? Because I think we should all get more involved at times like this and in general. These are just small, little nothing incidents really but if no one will get involved with the small things, then the big things will get ignored as well. Bigger incidents involving children, elderly people, everyday ordinary people whose lives may get turned upside down amidst a huge shock because NO ONE would GET INVOLVED!
What do you really have to lose by stepping in? Nothing!
What do you have to gain by getting involved? Potentially a lot!
You might only receive a simple but genuine thank you for something small. Or you might just get a warm fuzzy feeling for helping someone out. But that one little action could caused a ripple and effect many more people than you will ever know.
So these incidents have reminded me that I’m not happy to stand aside. I don’t feel comfortable “walking on by” and I certainly will not defer to the opinion of another person when I don’t agree with it in my heart.
I will get involved. I will step in. I will stick my nose into business that isn’t mine.
I will not be apathetic!