by KATE HUNTER
On the weekend, my mum tripped and fell while she was walking her dog. Her knees were bruised and a cut on her face was bleeding. Her phone was at home (Mum has never entirely embraced the mobility feature of the mobile phone). So she picked herself up, and rang the doorbell of a nearby house, so someone could call Dad for her.
Through the screen door, Mum saw a twenty-something couple on the couch, watching TV. They saw her, too. And they scurried upstairs. She rang the doorbell again, but no response.
Eventually, Mum flagged down a passing car and some very kind people drove her home.
Dad bundled her off to emergency, where they put five stitches above her left eye.
Mum’s fine, Dad’s on the phone to the council ranting about footpath maintenance, and I’m trying to work out why those people chose to ignore my mother.
It was a sunny morning, a nice suburb, and she’s a seventy-something lady. I told my friend Andrea the story and was astonished when she didn’t share my outrage.
‘Yeh,’ she said, ‘It would’ve been awful for your mum. You know and I know she’s lovely, but those people didn’t know, and creeps will do crazy things to get into a house these days.’
‘Oh come on,’ I said, ‘You’re telling me a burglar would buy a few Country Road separates, get himself a spoodle, splash a bit of Halloween blood on his face and ring a doorbell on a Sunday morning so he could nick an iPad?’
‘Maybe, or he might have wanted to butcher people as they watched Video Hits. It happens.’
I shook my head, but Andrea went on to tell me of the many devious ways criminals gain entry to our homes and lure us from them. Another apparently common trick is to play a recording of a newborn baby crying in a darkened car park. It’s a sure-fire way of luring a woman away from her vehicle so she can be robbed – or worse.
At that point, I called URBAN MYTH and wondered how many times a retold story has stopped someone doing something good, or even decent?
Thanks to the Internet, fear spreads fast and like Chinese whispers, the stories get more exciting.
Garden-variety flashers become brazen abduction attempts, and a white van on the street sends kids fleeing to the X Box and parents into therapy.
Fear isn’t new; scary stories linger. My mother in law still keeps her handbag with her when she takes communion, because in 1969 an opportunistic thief swiped handbags from pews in Ipswich. My mother in law wasn’t even a victim of the sacramental bag snatch, but she knew all about it, and you can’t be too careful can you?
But that’s different to not helping someone who’s hurt. I spoke to a few more people, trying to garner support and sympathy. Simon, in the office where I work shrugged, ‘Those people probably weren’t scared, they were just chilling on a Sunday, and if they answered the door, who knows? They might have had to TAKE her to hospital. What if she needed money, or was sort of crazy? That kind of crap can take up your whole day.’
So we have a sad phenomenon emerging – the Random Act Of Unkindness. Whether it’s driven by fear or unwillingness to spoil a Sunday the effect is the same – you, your parents, kids, friends, pets might not get help when they need it.
‘Getting involved’ is a pain; and if you read the papers, it could get you sued. Sometimes I want to take my family and camp out in the rumpus room with nothing but coconut finger buns and DVDs to sustain us.
But, as mum reminded me, the world isn’t completely bad yet, ‘A driver did stop for me and drove me home. He’d have taken me to the hospital if I’d wanted. He couldn’t have been kinder.’
So, while I munch on a stockpiled coconut finger bun, that’s what I’m choosing to think about.
Kate Hunter is an advertising copywriter with over 20 years experience and one Gruen Transfer appearance to her name. Kate is also the author of the Mosquito Advertising series of novels. You can buy them here.
Have you had an experience with someone being deliberately rude or unwilling to help? Do you think the world is becoming a less helpful place?