March 29, 2007

I Hope She's OK

We’ve moved our offices to Fairhaven. It’s pretty much over now, except for the monstrous unpacking which nobody wants to face at this point. I’ll have to try to get some pictures.

At the moment, I’m having real trouble getting WSAR from the new office. I will be having withdrawal from Keri’s show until I can figure out a solution… like a twin coil antenna or some such magic.

The new office is decent, but nothing too exciting. We’ve moved from an interesting place to a professional place. So we were trying to find something to be excited about. We focused on the shortened time it takes us to get to No Problemo. Via route 6 we’d timed it at 8 minutes. I was betting that the highway would get us to William Street quicker. But sometimes there is an interruption.

Sara and I told Derek we’d meet him in New Bedford for tacos, on the way back to the office to get our chairs. I hit the highway and tried to go quickly. Not trying to break any speed records, just trying to drive efficiently.

The drive, itself, was uneventful. (By highway we can get there in 6 minutes!) We pulled into the Barker’s Lane parking lot (the one neat Freestone’s) next to a beige sedan. I hopped out to get us a parking pass, but first I looked around to see if other people had passes. Often, the pass machine is broken, but it looked like people had passes on their cars. I noticed there was a young woman in the sedan, and she oddly had two parking passes on her dashboard. I think she was asleep.

I dashed to the machine (Sara staying near the car, yelling after me, offering to pay for some of the parking) but my mind was wandering. The woman in the sedan was bugging me. I yelled back to Sara; I think I asked if the woman was moving, or if she looked like she was asleep. Sara said she looked asleep.

She met me halfway on my walk back to the Jeep. I was a little worried about the woman and so was Sara after having a look at her. I threw my pass onto my dashboard and circled around the front of the sedan. She was asleep at an odd angle. Head lolled over to her right. Hands somewhere in her lap. It didn’t look right. But I guess she could have just been sleeping.

It was making very little noise, but I suddenly realized the car was running. I could smell the exhaust and faint cigarette smoke. What the heck? A young woman asleep in her car with the engine running? I needed to take a closer look. She was sitting up, but she was tilted slightly to the right. Her head’s tilt was anything but slight. Her hands were in her lap, loosely holding a credit card and an open cardboard pack of cigarettes. Her mouth was half open. Her chest was rising and falling. “She’s breathing,” I told Sara. We agreed this situation was not right.

I approached the car again and knocked rapidly, but lightly on the diver’s side window. There was no response.

I waited a moment and repeated the knocking, slightly harder on the window this time but stopping short of pounding on the window. There was no response.

I was feeling a little frantic wondering how to determine whether she needed help and how to quickly get her that help. I looked around for help. I think Sara thought I had gone a bit goofy when she saw me sprint towards William street. I saw the fire marshal’s red truck driving in the direction of Freestone’s. I had to dash around some parked cars so that I could jump in front of his vehicle as he slowed at the intersection. I told the man what I saw and asked if we could get the woman some help. He said he’d contact an ambulance on the radio and I directed him to the parking lot.

I ran back and explained what was going on to Sara, and as Derek arrived in the parking lot, the fire marshal was banging on the young woman’s window and calling to her; she didn’t respond to the loud attempts to rouse her. He opened the door to physically intervene (it was unlocked) and she groggily came to. She looked ill and when he asked her whether she was alright, she said she didn’t feel well. She looked like she was going to fall back asleep.

I stepped away slowly with Derek and Sara as he spoke to her and on his radio. I heard him ask her whether she knew where she was, and whether she realized her car was running. She answered very groggily, but I could no longer hear her voice. At this point I figured my involvement was over, and I was uncomfortable hanging around just to find out more about the situation. I wanted to know whether she was OK, but it really wasn’t any of my business anymore. The fire marshal went back to his truck (to get something, apparently) and gave me a wave and a nod. I waved my own “thank you” back at him and we wandered off for lunch.

I hope she is OK. I hope I overreacted, but at the very least I don’t think it’s safe to sleep in a running car with your door unlocked and your credit card in your hand. I hope she wasn’t as ill as she looked. Maybe she just had trouble sleeping last night. Maybe she just had some sort of flu.

I felt a strong urge not to interfere with this young woman until I factored in the running car. We should naturally check up on each other, shouldn’t we? Why did I feel at all reluctant?

Posted by James at March 29, 2007 1:07 AM
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Being a Good Samaritan is at odds with the modern virtue of respecting the privacy of others at all costs. You did the right thing, no matter how it turned out. Nice job.

Posted by: Mike at March 29, 2007 9:47 AM

Agreed. It's lucky for her that you were concerned enough to think through it and decide that something did not add up.

I think some of the discomfort comes from the privacy thing and some from the desire to not be embarrassed or embarrass others. If there had been a rational explanation, you or she might have felt foolish.

Still, better foolish than dead.

Posted by: briwei at March 29, 2007 11:08 AM

When did this happen? Maybe there will be something in the local news about it.

Posted by: Julie at March 29, 2007 1:12 PM

The exact time is on the parking pass that is probably still in my car, but sometime yesterday (Wed) afternoon, the 28th.

Posted by: James at March 29, 2007 1:19 PM

I always call that "Custom House Square," but that's not important... You done good. Sometimes when folks question altruism, they're sorting out if they themselves could have been so brave, unscripted. Don't be afraid of any imagined bad outcome. Old job: If I indulged in "Should I Would I," a mate goes overboard in 40-degree water. I can't imagine any wrong outcome from your efforts. THANK YOU.

(No 'SAR? "Streaming Keri" sounds even more imperative now. I would hate to think of you listening to WBSM. Ever.)

Posted by: ThirdMate at March 29, 2007 1:35 PM

OK - I knew it probably had a better name, and that sounds familiar. Yes - the parking lot next to the Custom House. That's why I included the map, because I figured people wouldn't know Barkers Lane unless they were regulars of The Garden. And maybe not even then, as you don't necessarily see the sign when you are stumbling out the back door.

It was not much of a feat to do what I did, and I'm glad I did. I'm especially glad because it becomes easier to bother people the more you do it. And I think that's a good thing -- to overcome my natural reluctance.

Posted by: James at March 29, 2007 4:48 PM

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