Yesterday, I had an experience that caused me to pause, stand back a bit and try to understand a phenomena that I have not experienced before.
Yesterday I had a flat tire. Unfortunately for me, the tire went flat all at once and dramatically. One moment all had been fine and then without warning, all was not well and I was trying to find a way off a freeway into a safer part of the road.
I took the first exit off the freeway, only to find myself on another very busy freeway — one between two of the major freeways where I live. Had I been alone, it might not have been so hair-raising, but I was not alone. It was scary.
But what caught my attention and wouldn’t let go, was the lack of help all the way from my roadside assistance organization, to the people traveling so quickly on that freeway. I was quickly brought to understand that no one cared to help. No one stopped.
It took me 15 minutes to be able to talk with a live person with my roadside assistance organization, and it took them one hour to come and help me — and even then, I was given “a lick and a promise.” The young man changed the tire, but threw the torn one into the trunk without battening it down, told me he “couldn’t” put the hub cap back on the tire, didn’t put the things back that he’d pulled out of my trunk and left in a hurry. Wham! Bam! And off he left.
My roadside assistance told me they had called the police to see if they might be able to give me assistance. No one came. No one stopped.
Huh! I thought to myself.
Now, I’ve traveled all over the United States, touring with my books, visiting family and friends, and I’ve always observed that if I have trouble on the road, someone usually will stop and try to assist me. Having a roadside assistance organization, I sometimes don’t need that help — but the point is that someone almost always stops.
Is it the East Coast? Because I now live on the East Coast, close to NY City. Is it NY City — the City with a reputation of, “It’s all about me, fella, and not about you.” The me…me…me…me…me…me…me attitude? (As Toby Keith put it so well.) Is it the fear of being sued because one tried to help?… Shame on the judge that allowed that one to go through.
Or is it that our society has gone so far down that people fear to come to the aid of another?
I don’t know. All I know is that in the West, any time I’ve had trouble on the road, someone has always stopped. One fella changed a flat tire for me so quickly, I had to cancel my roadside assistance.
It was that — looking at the difference between the Western attitude and the Eastern attitude toward the subject of help that brought to mind the Code of the West…that to help a fellow traveler was considered important, and one’s duty. It’s still alive in the West.
Is it dead in the East? My experience yesterday would have me believe that it is here in the New York area, that there is no chivalry in what has been described as a cold, cold city. But perhaps I’m prejudiced. I am a Western girl, after all. I love the West, probably always will.
And so I thought I’d leave you with an anecdote about something that happened to me recently. I travel a lot — and just recently had traveled throughout the South Eastern states. As I drive, I try to be polite to other drivers — i.e., letting people into line, etc. Never a problem.
Then as I was approaching home more closely, I let a person in line to exit ahead of me because there was construction, and traffic was at a standstill anyway. Immediately as soon as I kindly let this person in, someone in back of me honked, laying on the horn. I thought to myself, “Gee, if I had been uncertain as to where I am, I’d know it now. ” No where I have traveled have I experienced such unkindness on the road.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on the matter? Have I tramped on toes here? Or do you, too, have an experience to relate? Do come in and let’s chat.