I know that I am guilty of driving past a stranded motorist on the side of the road. Â In the age of ubiquitous cell phones, I can almost safely assume that a person sitting out of traffic has called a friend or AAA or a towing service, or in the Atlanta area on the highways that a HERO vehicle will be along shortly. Â I consider this to be acceptable. Â Especially in the middle of the day, off the side of the road, this person is very likely to be okay.
However, when a car is stalled and is blocking traffic, I usually pull up and ask if they need help. Â Most of the time they say no, whether because they don’t need help or because the bald goatee’d strange guy is asking I don’t know, but at least I’ve asked. Â Occasionally, people even say yes, and I help them. Â Not often, because the truth is that it is fairly rare for a car to actually die completely in traffic and not be able to get off the road. Â I’ve had cars die a few times, but in almost every case I was able to limp them off the road.
Yesterday, the wife’s car died while waiting at a stop light. Â She called me, I told her to call the service station we use and have them send a truck, and then I packed up my stuff and left work to go help. Â In the time it took me to get there, more than 20 minutes, many cars had gone by her honking and yelling. Â One guy did help her slightly, and pushed her car forward enough that people could get around her easier, but didn’t help her get out of the road. Â After I got there, I witnessed a large number of people continue to honk and yell and drive around. Â I tried to move the car myself, but it was slightly uphill and I wasn’t going anywhere. Â Then a guy in a truck towing a trailer asked if we needed help. Â I said yes, he actually drove to a nearby gas station, parked, and ran back over to help. Â The two of us pushed the car through the intersection and into a turn lane out of traffic.
For well over a half hour, the wife sat in traffic as people honked and yelled, complaining and upset at the jam her dead car was causing. Â Out of all of those people, only two bothered to help. Â I find this indicative of most people in general. Â They would rather sit and complain about something being crappy rather than to actually take action to try to make it less crappy. Â So many people would rather be the victim than the hero if being the hero means they have to actually do something.