Friday, April 26, 2013

To Be A Better Person, I Passed By A Fallen Cyclist

At some point this week, it might have been Tuesday or Wednesday, I drove by what appeared to be a car-bicycle accident.
Hmmm..That sentence alone conjures up several tangent threads given my current A.D.D. state: why I have no idea what day it was; driving the truck instead of the convertible or bike; the fact that I was driving at all in the middle of the day; rants on a self-absorbed populous.
But I digress..
I was on a 4 lane side road. And yes, that does, in fact, mean two lanes in either direction. In this area they are quite commonly called "side roads". Not to be confused with side roads of the dirt nature - or just plain of nature, found where regular folk live beyond the entitlements of urbanites.
Oops. Again, I digress...
As I approached the scene, a white-haired man in a blue short-sleeved polo shirt, long-ish oatmeal colored cargo shorts, white crew socks and sneakers was sitting in the road just prior to the intersection of a street perpendicular to the one I was on. He was in the center of the right turn lane propping himself up on one arm while his bicycle lay between his feet. He looked like you would envision someone's grandfather looking like. About five feet back up the street, away from the intersection, was the car. The driver, a young smartly dressed asian man, was getting out of his (BMW? Audi? I forget now..) car. In the time it took me to pass (keep in mind the traffic nightmare that exists nearly all of the time here) the older man made one, then a second and obviously painful attempt to stand up. As he righted himself, the young driver reached his side with his hand tentatively extended in a gesture of help that was refused and the young man took a half step back. They seemed to stand there looking at each other for a slow second, then the older man turned, picked up his bicycle and turned it upside down where he stood, which was still in the middle of the right turn lane, and began inspecting it. The young man, now facing the older man's back, turned back to his car while dialing on his cell and holding it to his ear.
End of my visual.
My first thoughts were reactionary: "Is he badly hurt? What could I even do other than keep them safe from other traffic? I wish Melissa was here, she would know exactly how to figure out if he's hurt and what to do." to then thinking "He's up, seems okay. Are they gonna get ugly with each other? Should I stop? Would I help or just make a bad situation worse?" to finally "Staying there they are backing up that turn lane and causing more frustration to others trying to get by.Why didn't they move to the curb (bike to sidewalk) to get to safer ground? Is it just a shock-induced lack of judgement? Is it arrogance?"
And then I was beyond the intersection with all of the other passers-by who also didn't stop to offer/inquire about help. Or add to an already embarrassing and possibly contentious situation by trying to "help" when no help was wanted nor needed. For me, it was over.
Or so I thought.
It's been in my head ever since. I constantly struggle with that "MUST HELP OTHERS" tsunami that explodes whenever I encounter someone in distress. It's been one hell of an effort these last few years to tame that beast and push it back into an acceptably sized box. More than once throughout the course of my life it was responsible for getting me into undesirable situations before I realized what I had done. There are people in my life that are reading this right now that are probably nodding vigorously. (smile) I know, I know.. But it made for interesting stories, right?
Being controlling can come in many forms. When I force "help" on someone who has not asked for help, I'm basically robbing them of the chance to help themselves. If this is a weakness they already have, I enable it. I might as well come out and say "I don't think you have the means to help yourself so I'm going to do it for you" That can lead to unhealthy dependencies and resentments. Rarely does it lead to betterment. Since I typically mean well, that's the exact opposite of my intentions. It's taken a long time to not feel really guilty trying to put this into practice. But on this day, I passed by a fallen bicyclist to support a better me.
Ohhhh the irony!!

Look, I'm a Gemini - we play head games with ourselves.
It's what we do.

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