Friday, June 09, 2006

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

Yesterday Sara and I went out for lunch in Newton (a suburban and fairly ritzy area of Boston). Newton has paved over what probably used to be its common (plaza, piazza, central square/park) and turned it to a lovely parking lot so consumers can shop at the nearby Pier One, Starbucks, Coldstone, etc.

When we parked, I noticed as I got out of our car a guy slouched in the driver's seat of the taxi parked next to us. The cab had backed in so he was right next to me. His window was down and although it was not raining, the weather was cool and damp. I looked at Sara, subliminally asking her, "What should we do? This guy does not look good."

As we walked away, we decided that if he was still there after lunch we would deal with it then. For all we knew, he might just be napping.

When we returned, the guy had moved but he was still slumped over his steering wheel and it had begun to rain. His window was still down and he was getting wet. The bit of his face we could see looked ashen.

I decided to go into a nearby bank and see if I could call the police to come check the guy out. The people in the bank were helpful, but the woman at the police station was curt and I had a hard time explaining the situation. She finally said she would send someone, but I had to meet the patrol in the parking lot. Since it was raining, I told Sara she could wait at the Starbucks. No sense both of us getting wet.

After about five minutes, a police officer showed up followed by a fire truck. By then the cab window had gone up, but the guy still was slouched. The officer knocked loudly on the window and the guy popped up, startled.

"Are you ok? How are you feeling?" the officer asked.

"Fine, just getting some rest," was the guy's nervous reply.

"You sure? You want to see a medic?" asked the officer.

"No, no. I was just tired. I needed some rest."

The officer radioed in to cancel the ambulance and told the firefighters everything was fine. I felt silly to have caused so much commotion and I apologized to the officer. He was very understanding and said that it is job to check on these things and that it was good that I had alerted someone.

I went to Starbucks and got Sara. By the time we got back to the car, the cab had left - probably to find a more secluded place to rest.

I probably should have just asked the guy if he was ok. I do know CPR, although it has been a while since I have been certified. Something kept me from doing that - probably not knowing how the guy was going to react if indeed he was just sleeping. He did not look good, though, and he was quite slumped over - not in your normal napping position. I could not just ignore the situation either. I have seen enough videos where people ignore others in need. It would have destroyed my conscience if I had not done anything and then heard on the evening news that a cab driver was found dead in a Newton parking lot where no one stopped to help him.

What would you have done? Have you ever had experiences like that?

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