It was a Sunday evening, around 5pm and the weather was excellent for April 12. Especially given the winter we had. People had their roofs down and stereos blaring, trying to squeeze the final hours out of their short sleeved shirts. We too were one of those people. Then it happened.
The fuel pump failed leaving “Buchephalus” without his legs. We had broken down.
The two kids, Ed and I grabbed some snacks and bottles of water and proceeded to set ourselves up well off the side of the road to wait for support to come. We looked for bugs, collected beer bottles and garbage and made the “change in plans” seem like an exciting adventure.
I won’t go into the particulars about what went wrong, but when all was said and done, the van was stranded on the side of the road for two hours and 10 minutes. And I’m not exaggerating by a minute.
What I noticed very quickly on and was evident after our extremely long stay was that not one single person, slowed down or stopped to ask us if we were okay. Not one.
I was really surprised.
And then, I was terrified.
If I’d been alone with The Kids, I wouldn’t have had a cell phone with me. I wouldn’t have been able to call for help. I would have flagged someone down, I mean I would have HAD to flag someone down. But that’s not exactly a safe thing to do on a 400 highway.
And neither is slowing down/stopping. Is that what people were thinking? Is that why they didn’t offer help?
I chatted with some friends and their #1 theory was that people probably assumed we had a cell phone. Number two was that it was too dangerous to slow down. And finally, that the person slowing down would be putting themselves at risk.
I’ve stopped to offer people help in the past and would again in the future. I have because I’d never assume that they had a cell phone (as I don’t), see slowing down as no more dangerous then being on the side of the road in the first place (hello rubber necking*) and as for personal safety, I’m the person with the functioning vehicle and talking to someone with my window down an inch to offer to make a phone call on a 400 highway is a risk that I’m willing to take.
In case you don’t want to stop, remember that you can always call the police and report the breakdown.
No judgements. Just wondering what other people are thinking.
Would You have Stopped to Help? Why or Why Not?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) May 12, 2015