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Whatever happened to "helping a friend out"?


As you know by now, I listen to my police scanner a lot. Pretty much all the time, really. There is something I have been noticing that has been bothering me. It seems like, instead of being neighborly and helpful, that people just call the police. It seems that we are actually outsourcing common courtesy. Is it laziness, fear, lack of time? Is it a disconnect from other people? A result of an increasing isolation brought about by technology and autonomy?

But somehow, I feel we trick ourselves by feeling that we actually have "helped a friend out" by picking up our phone and dialing 911, instead of getting our hands dirty and helping out ourselves. Let me give you some examples.

A caller reported a dog loose in the neighborhood. The caller knew the address of the owner. Why not just go and tell the owner yourself? Or, better yet, take the dog there?

A caller reported their neighbor was banging loudly on the door late at night. Ok, this was NOT in the Redbud area, just in case you were wondering. I know, in my neighborhood, that if one my neighbors was pounding on my door I would instantly become concerned that they needed immediate help, and help them.

This I just heard tonight; a caller reported seeing a bike wreck, and watched the victim go and sit on the curb. They then called the police to report it. What happened to stopping and seeing if he was OK?

Let me tell you a true story- this is where my fear prevented me from helping out;

I was driving home from work one morning- about 5:30 a.m. It was very close to Halloween. I saw a figure walking, and they appeared to be stumbling, somewhat. I couldn't tell if they had a mask on or not, and I really thought to myself "should I stop to make sure they are OK?" I did not. I did have my police scanner on, and proceeded to continue to drive home. I soon heard a police call for a missing adult with Alzhiemers. The descrition given matched the description of the person I saw. I called the police and gave the location he was last seen, and the police were able to locate him and return him home to safety.

I wish I would have stopped. While this story ended well, it could have very easily ended tragically. It was very cold that early morning, and it was in a bad neighborhood.

I guess what I'm trying to say is; we need to put aside our fears, stop being so busy, and take time to get to know our neighbors. It could be you that needs the help someday.

read the blog- tell me what you think;



FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

@ophiuchus and chelseadiane...I agree...it IS very sad, but true.

sr80 7 years, 4 months ago

i believe there is no such thing as a "friend". its more generational if that makes any sense.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 4 months ago

I've had a lot of friends over the years. Many come and gone. When I see my friends-at-twelve, even if it's been years, it's like we were never away. We're still that close.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

I have a few like that also. love them....

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

After reading the comments, I feel very blessed and thankful. I have four treasured friendships in my life...they have "been there" for me when no one else was...and I have "been there" for them. Friendship must be reciprocal or it will die, as a marriage will die if not nurtured. One of my cherished friendships started when I was 15 years old. The "newer" ones are 14 years long, 12 years long, and 5 years long. In the vernacular of our young people today, these four incredible women are my BFF! :~) (Although I don't think young people have any idea what true friendship is all about...so many seem quite superficial somehow...but that's just my opinion.)

The last time anyone brought homemade goodies to me as a new neighbor was 1979!! I try to keep that lovely old tradition alive. The recipients are usually so taken aback by the gesture, it would be comical if not so pitiful. They can't seem to understand that someone would take the time to bake something special to welcome them into their new neighborhood. Yes, it's sad. I believe neighbors should look out for each other. I find most people these days do not seem to think that way.

I do have other friends, just not at the "level" of these four special ones. I count myself as so furtunate...and I am truly thankful.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

Do you mind if I repost that on the log? it is beautifully written, and somewhat haunting. i like it a lot.

FloridaSunshine 7 years, 4 months ago

@ophiuchus...chelseadiane is absolutely right about your post...your writing often has an ethereal quality to it (I've read other posts you've written)...while reading your posts in the recent past, I've wondered what your profession could be. This one really has me wondering...

Speaking of editing...I've done quite a bit of editing...and I do some writing...it's part of who I am. But just look at how I spelled "fortunate"...last line of my post!!! YIKES!!! The editor needs an editor! s-m-i-l-e

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

Porches,sidewalks and neighbors make you happier. If you volunteer somewhere you will get more out of it than you imagine. Choose your volunteer work as carefully as you choose your friends or activities. Lead from your own heart.
Don't trust someone not doing anything to tell you how you should do something.

RogueThrill 7 years, 4 months ago

A better question is how would your average citizen actually help? Calling the authorities would mean that someone who is specifically trained to help would arrive on the scene earlier.

If I saw someone getting beat up I would call police and then try and help them. Same for rape or an accident. But I am limited in what I can do.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

In those situations- absolutely call the police first. I am more thinking about cases like the ones I cited. Why not take your neighbors dog back instead of calling the police? That results in a fine over $100, a trip to the pound and a vet bill for the kennel cough they will almost certainly pick up. ( obviously the voice of experience here). I just feel like so often the police are called for situations that could be easily handled between people, neighbors, friends.....

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

I remember stopping at a bad accident, several people spread out, laying on the ground. I stopped as did several other people. I checked for bleeding and breathing. One man kept running around, kind of following me and he kept yelling you aren't suppose to touch anyone, don't touch anyone until help arrives. I finally took a moment to look at him and try to calm him. I said No, it is not, don't touch , it is don't move anyone, it helps to touch them, hold their hand. I don't go toward a fire unless I have a tool in my hand. My dad taught me these things. I learned from helping others not to feed a starving dog with my hand. put the hamburger on a stick. Some of the people who ask for help the most actually need you not to help them. A job or work is better than a loan. I never give a panhandler money.
When I hear a friend has had trouble. I go there and bring food but sometimes a couple of hundred dollars will help the logistics. I wish it was fashionable at funerals in lieu of flowers please donate to pay for the service. Poor people have to pay twice as much for many goods or services as rich people. Our society charges people more if they are poor. Remember that when you think $20. is nothing. I have a responsibility to guard myself and I have no trouble giving a hand if I can see it is needed and what is needed. When I was a single parent, a neighbor realized what I needed, she went and got the prescription so I didn't have to drag a sick child to the store.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

I learned in EMT school- "life over limb". You would definately move someone if their lives were in imminent danger..and the Good Samaritian laws should protect you.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

I guess the answer would be "very carefully". You always want to secure the neck-but without the proper equipment this is next to impossible. You can have a helper firmly hold the head and use communication to do your best to move the person without jostling them too much-preferably not at all. The EMT's that save people are highly trained- and their job is extremely difficult and stressful. They save lives everyday...and I think they are just awesome.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

I have been very grateful for a first aid class and cpr class. The first aid class has been helpful, I also read a lot. As to moving a person, live over limb, is of course a good guide. http://www.ehow.com/how_4529990_move-injured-person.html I saw an accident where a person had been thrown from a high loader and ended up near the edge of a hole. A man took of his shirt and used it to drag the injured person. i could see it was easier on the injured than if you just pulled him by his arms. I never checked but it looked right. I have heard of someone using a coat when dragging someone out of a fire when they were to big to be lifted. Dad had all kinds of drills for us. How to carry someone, the fireman's carry, He had us write an emergency plan. How to put out fires, he taught us to use a fire extinguisher, point at the base of the fire. To be frank, Dad also put his kids at risk a lot, he took us to high places to play, etc, He wasn't a careful man.But he wanted us to know a lot.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

Ya know, my Dad took us to a lot of cool places too. I remember 4-wheel driving during his National Guard retreats. I remember sitting on his lap and steering while he worked the pedals in our old Chevy nova. I remember playing in the park unattended while he played volleyball with his friends. I remember him handing me and my brother a handful of quarters to play video games while him and his buddies drank beer at the bar. Sounds shocking??? I also remember him always helping out a neighbor, a friend, a guy pulled over on the side of the road. Always. It seems like we have become so cautious, we have forgotten no only how to have fun, but how to be a friend, even to strangers.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

you are so right about the elderly! I am a nurse, and I have seen horrible skin tears from the slightest of touches. They take so long to heal, also. You want to avoid sliding them- the friction causes tears, lifting is best with the elderly.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

When my sweet oldster needed help up, a fireman lifted her quickly and slight scraped her shin on his boot, it really never healed. Skin like paper, and easily bruised. Lifting is an art form. If you are helping care for an invalid or semi invalid, there are techniques worth learning. My best advise is slow, take your time, talk to the person, listen to the person.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

you nailed it! It is a slippery slope, and an addiction is a multi-faceted condition. The entire family needs to be involved in the process- under the guidance of professionals trained to provide support. I think everyone, somehow, has had their lives affected by an addiction of some sort. And just because you "kick" a substance doesn't mean the problem is solved.

ksarmychick 7 years, 4 months ago

In the case of the loose dog, did you ever wonder if they actually had returned the dog numerous times and the owners couldn't be bothered to put the dog on a leash? Where I used to live the neighbors dog escaped on a daily basis, I returned the dog to them several times. But eventually got fed up. (We lived on a semi busy street, 9th street, and my roommates had let my dog out when I was at work and he ended up being killed by a car.) This dog escaping every day became a nusiance and his safety was a big concern. I got mad after returning the dog at least 5 times in over a week. So I called animal control to come get the dog. This ment that the owner would have to pay $35 to get the dog back or the dog would get a new home with a responsible owner. It had nothing to do with not helping them, but more so in teaching them a lesson. It was not my responsibility to waste my time to return the dog on an almost daily basis so he wouldn't get hit by a car. Eventually people get fed up and calling the cops becomes the best option for everyone involved.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

You're probably right about the dog. I had a dog- who sadly died this past summer- and he was a big, beautiful and friendly Golden Retriever. He sometimes snuck off- not alot, but he got picked up a couple times. The fine is around $150.00. The last time he snuck off, my neighbor kept him for about 10 minutes, called the phone number on his tag. I unfortunately didn't hear my phone. She left a message saying she was calling the pound. He was picked up and taken. I, of course, went and got him. He died a couple of days later, I think from a stroke. I just kind of irked me that she didn't hold on to him for a bit longer, or bring him back- she knew where I lived. The message she left wasn't very nice, either. It was my fault, and no one else's, that he snuck off. but, geez, it was really expensive. I live in a middle class, built in the 50's neighborhood with few rentals. All the neighbors know each other. I did not yell at her, I thanked her for keeping the dog safe and vented my frustration to my friends. It just seemed unnecessary.

northtowngrl 7 years, 4 months ago

I love this post and peek at the policescanner blog quite often, but I hesitate to do so as often as I'd like becuase though there are parts that I like about that blog, there are certain things that bother me quite a bit. For one thing the comments can be be very snide and judgemental. (I am sure the posters think they are cute and funny and harmless, but I disagree). The thought ran through my head when I first saw the post about the dog and I'll say it again... I am betting that this was not a cute little puppy that got out and just needed help finding its way back to its owner. I am guessing that this was a much more menacing breed and/or that perhaps the neighbors were not as neighborly as you or I would have been.

In answer to your own question about why we are not more friendly and neighborly to others and instead we just call authorites... maybe the answer is right there in the mirror (or your own blog). Maybe people don't want to risk being judged or open themselves up to snide remarks or attacks so they pass the buck to someone who gets paid to deal with those situations instead of being as helpful as we could be.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

You are right, I am just as guilty as the people I am referring to- see the blog entry above where I didn't stop to help the elderly Alzheimers patient. In writing about others, one is often writing and learning about themselves...

You should hear some of the stuff I don't write. Believe it or not- it is somewhat censored.

I certainly hope my opinions are taken with a grain of salt, because that's all they are; my opinions, and jokes. Some are funny, some aren't. I am just incredibly flattered that anyone even reads it.

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