Have we lost that down-home touch?

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2003

By By James Crawford
News Editor
Have you ever had one of those days where you were confronted with a moral dilemma that left you feeling unsatisfied no matter which way you turned? This past weekend, I had just that kind of day. My family and I were on our way to a see a movie down in Pensacola. My daughter had never been to a theatre with stadium seating before and I finally relented to the endless begging. Of course, it may have had something to do with wanting to get out of the house on my part that made backing down all the more easier.
The dilemma came on the way to the theatre. While traveling down Hwy 21., we encountered a man driving a Dodge dually pickup truck who was swerving all over the road.
We followed this guy for several miles and watched him narrowly avoid hitting several mailboxes, a street sign, construction cones and the like but when he crossed over the yellow line the discussion began between my wife and I about what to do.
Should we just pass this guy and forget about it? Should we attempt to pull him over and reason with him and maybe get him a ride home? Or should we pull over and call the cops and let them do what they get paid to do.
Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking. It's none of my business to interfere. Several years ago I would have agreed with you. But in the light of falling asleep at the wheel myself once years ago and nearly causing someone, namely a family of four, to come to great harm, I've always promised myself I wouldn't just turn away like everyone did to me that day.
The only thing about intervening is that it's dangerous. This guy looked to be big. He had a big truck and I'm not sure he would've liked me telling him his driving was suspicious and that maybe he needed to call someone to come get him. My wife agreed. With a young daughter in the car, you can't just make a decision based on yourself. In this case, I had to think of everyone's well being, including the guy in the truck.
We decided to pass the guy and take a look at him as we went by to see what kind of shape he was in. When we eased up next to the cab, I could see he was dressed in camouflage. Apparently he had been in the woods, and his face was red and his eyes told me all I needed to know. The guy appeared to be intoxicated, and this moral dilemma had just turned into a dangerous situation.
The only decision my wife and I could reach that we felt reasonably good about was to call the sheriff's department and alert them they needed to stop the guy and wake some sense into him. So, we stopped at the next store after following him and used the pay phone.
I know some might cry foul at the thought of ratting the guy out, and I'm not totally at ease with dialing 911 either, but it was better than doing nothing, and I didn't put my family at risk of getting shot or stranded from taking on an angry driver who was obviously bigger than me.
This brings me to my second situation that occurred only two days ago. My wife was driving home from picking up my daughter at school and running some errands and luck would have it, she had a blow out. I later found out, while listening to her preach about vehicle maintenance and my role of checking the tires, that she watched more than a dozen cars pass by on that little country road without stopping to help her and my little girl. Instead, it was nearly an hour before someone did finally stop, literally minutes before I came upon her myself and offered to help. To those two gentlemen, I say thank you.
And I wonder, have we as a society gotten to the point where no one can be bothered to take a moment to help someone in need? Did I go too far by calling the police and trying to get an alleged drunk driver off the road? I just can't or won't believe society has gotten that bad but I admit, I don't see much to prove me right.
When did we lose the down home Mayberry hospitality that the South was known for? If you're wondering the same thing yourself, then take a step to turn back the sands of time and look for an opportunity to stop and help someone. Open a door, hold an umbrella for a lady, give a dime to someone in need if they come up short at the fast food counter or tell some a joke when they're having a bad day. If we all try just a little, then we can all take society back down to a friendlier notch.
James Crawford is News Editor of The Atmore Advance. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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