Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good deeds in a weary world

In the past couple of weeks, two people I know and love did things which amazed me. I wish I had been there to see them. Especially when one of them was Andy, my dear friend of over twenty years. He's not the physically bravest of people--being targeted when you're young tends to do that to you. But a couple of weeks ago he was in downtown Minneapolis, about to cross a street, when he saw a man on the other side attacking a woman. I won't share his private thoughts with you, but safe to say he was alarmed and frightened. This man was pulling the woman's hair and beating at her, and no one was helping her out.

Now, Andy could have been like anyone else on the street, minding his own business, and he had every right to fear for his own safety if he intervened. But as he said, he was brought up that you don't hit women, so when he crossed the street and the man hadn't continued, Andy walked up to him and hit him...with an umbrella.

Don't laugh. Really. Andy hit him hard enough that the umbrella handle broke. The man was stunned enough that he backed away from the woman. Andy put himself between the man and the woman and wielded the umbrella like a sword, keeping the confused and enraged man at bay until the sirens were heard. (At which point, like a coward, the man ran.) Andy had saved the day. I just don't have enough words to express how proud I am of him. He not only did the right thing, he did the brave thing knowing that he could get hurt himself. That takes courage, and he has it. He's on my Best Persons in the World list now.

The other is my nephew. He has a similar story. The other night he was coming out of a movie theater with a friend and saw a man apparently choking a woman in the parking lot. There was a small bunch of frozen onlookers. Just as one guy said that maybe somebody should do something, Kyle charged up and pulled the guy off the woman. He said later that he didn't seem to be actually choking her, but grabbing her in a way that looked like it. And it turned out the guy was mentally handicapped and the woman was his caretaker. But Kyle put himself between the guy and the woman and kept him at bay until the cops showed up.

I'm just as proud of my nephew, though to be honest, he's a lot younger and a lot more muscular than Andy. He doesn't take crap from anybody. But when other people were wondering what to do, he stepped in and did it. He saved that woman from possible, real damage. (I bet she called the agency for another assignment in the morning.) You have to do the right thing, and here are two people who did so without hesitation. I am proud to know them.


cinderkeys said...

Oh man. That is so cool. I hope I could do what needed to be done in a situation like that, but I don't know.

It always seems weird when there's a whole crowd of people not doing anything, but victims are actually better off if only one person sees the attack. More than one and you get everyone milling around, thinking, "Maybe someone else will take care of this," or "Hmm, nobody ELSE seems to be paying attention, so maybe minding my own business is the right thing to do."

If you're the victim, best thing to do is point to one person and say, "You! Help me." I suppose if you're in the crowd and don't want to get pummeled by playing hero, you could point to someone close to you and say, "Help me. I'm going to pull that guy off her." Nothing to lose.

The scenarios you described were way more heroic, though. :)

BenPanced said...

Hi, I'm Andy. I'd sized up the situation and when I saw the woman was completely incapacitated and unable to fend for herself, and nobody else was helping her, I knew I had to help. (Actually, two women had already called the police, so that's doing something.) I was passing not ten feet from them and I couldn't have faced myself the next morning if I hadn't at least tried to help.