My Sunshiny Life

{April 10, 2009}   Would you save a stranger?

I’m quite disturbed by a programme I’ve just watched. (Channel 4 catch up, love it!) The title of the programme was ‘Would you save a stranger’? This is something that I have thought about a lot, living in a big city and I feel very safe in London.  I actually feel much safer in London than I do in New Zealand, after all there’s safety in crowds, right?

Some of the stories documented in this programme showed instances where people were attacked in a large crowd and no one intervened. That raises the million dollar question. Would you? Would you step in, putting yourself at risk to save someone you didn’t know?  I know I would, well I hope I would but I guess it depends on the situation.  Two guys beating up one guy is a different scenario to ten guys beating up one guy – would I still put myself in the middle?

I’m the sort of person who asks people to turn their ipod down on the bus and who tuts in annoyance at people chewing their gum loudly.  After all, the fragile threads of our social fabric are held together by frowning upon and shunning anti social behaviour.

The most fraught experience I have had was when I challenged a teenager on the bus who had his ghetto bullshit music blaring tinnily out of his mobile phone. It was about 7pm and I was hungover, tired and cranky, having had my Xmas work do the night before and very little sleep. The bus was packed and I was about four seats in front of him, as he sat slouched on the back seat. I turned to face him and asked him politely to turn his music down. He adopted what he thought was a mean ass expression, but it was really a sullen teenager pouty face. He refused. I asked why. Just because. I turned around in frustration, then thought actually you know what, that isn’t good enough. So I turned around again, slightly self conscious and blushing but unable to stop myself, and asked how he’d feel if I got on the bus and played Dolly Parton that loud  (take that punk, I’ll 9-5 your ass).  There were a few sniggers but people were still desperately avoiding my gaze and pretending the situation wasn’t developing.  His response was to shrug with as much attitude as he could muster. I was on a roll now though,  telling him ‘no one likes your music’ and asking ‘why don’t you wear headphones’? I just received a glare in response. Then a guy a couple of seats away said don’t be a dick mate, turn it off. Nope, no luck. Well I needed some support for my ‘turn the music down you lousy taste in music little twat’ campaign.  So I asked for a show of hands for anyone else who wanted his music turned down. I raised mine high and got a couple of half hearted hand raises but everyone else steadfastedly looked the other way. I resigned as chairman of the ‘turn the music down you lousy taste in music little twat’ campaign and sat in my seat day dreaming about morphing into Angelina Jolie and kicking his ass, flicking his annoying mobile out the window.  It wasn’t until I got off the bus and started walking in the cold, dark and wet winter night that it occurred to me that he could be a knife carrying thug and may have followed me off the bus.  Well, luckily he wasn’t but it could have turned out a lot differently and would those people on the bus have helped me… I don’t think so.  They probably thought, gobby cow, should have kept her mouth shut.

The problem is, if everyone keeps their mouth shut society doesn’t work.  So I am going to continue to be that girl on the bus who tuts when people are chewing gum loudly, when they have their music blaring out and when they act in an anti social manner.  I would step in if I saw someone being bullied and I am going to keep faith in humanity that someone would do the same for me if I ever needed it.


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