Sometimes I just don’t understand people. I was in the last kilometre of my morning run, heading back home, when I heard the most desperate scream. Not more than 20 metres ahead of me, a woman was walking with her dog on the zebra crossing leading into the park. A car hit the dog, and then just continued, without even stopping. As if nothing had happened. A man who had just crossed the zebra before her turned around to see what was the matter – and then just kept walking. As if nothing had happened. A woman on the opposite side of the road just stood there and stared.
The poor woman was completely distraught. She screamed again and then started crying. By the time I reached her she was reaching for her phone, her hand shaking in shock, while the little dog lay limp in her arms. It was still conscious, but you could see from the empty look in its eyes that something was very wrong.
What is it that makes people close their own eyes and walk on when they see someone in need? Are our hearts really as empty as the look in that poor dog’s eyes?
Why didn’t the car stop? Did the driver even notice – perhaps while talking on his mobile phone about something much more important? Or did he notice, and out of panic just kept driving, from the fear of having to take responsibility for what he had just done? Which is worse?
Why didn’t the man in front of her stop? He, at least, certainly did notice that something was wrong, because I saw him turn to look back. Did he hear the scream and just assume it was some ‘crazy’ person, perhaps an alcoholic or a homeless person not worthy of his attention? Or did he see exactly what had happened, and nevertheless chose to walk on? Which is worse?
Why did the woman on the opposite side of the road just stand there like a zombie?
Which is worse in all of these cases: the lack of awareness in not noticing others in need or the lack of caring to stop and help them? Can we really be so empty-minded? Can we really be so desensitized?
When I heard the scream I didn’t even know there was a dog involved. I just saw the woman sitting on the ground by the side of the road. At first, I too thought she was probably a ‘crazy’ person. By the time I reached her and saw what the situation actually was, I knew there was probably nothing I could do. I’m not a vet. I didn’t have a phone to call for help. As her shaking fingers hopelessly fumbled over the buttons on her own mobile, she said she was going to try to call for a taxi. So I thought the best thing I could do would be to try and stop one there and then on Attila út. As it so happened, just as I looked up, a taxi was approaching on the opposite side of the road. I ran over, waved it down and told the driver what had happened. He rolled his eyes, shook his head and waited while I called the woman over. She got in. They left. From beginning to end the whole scene must have lasted only a few moments.
All it takes is a bit of awareness.
All it takes is 30 seconds to care.