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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;


northtowngrl 3 years, 2 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.


ksarmychick 3 years, 2 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.


pace 3 years, 2 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.


RogueThrill 3 years, 2 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.


none2 3 years, 2 months ago

I think this is all part of a larger culture change.

1) For one thing, I think some of us are fearful of helping. We hear of the "traps" where someone pretends to need help so that when you stop they can ambush you.

2) We are so disconnected from what is around us. We talk to people far away on the phone while ignoring the physical person right next to us in the grocery store, restaurant, etc. We'd rather watch TV or do something in the back yard than sit on a front porch and communicate with other neighbors on their front porches. We are more touched by a death or disaster on the news for an individual or group so far way than for one that might happen nearby.

3) We have speed up time in our culture. Who takes the time to slow down. Helping someone slows us down thus it is troublesome to stop.


FloridaSunshine 3 years, 2 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 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.


sr80 3 years, 2 months ago

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


ophiuchus 3 years, 2 months ago

It is said that no good deed goes unpunished. For many who've been-there-suffered-that, sometimes a call to an assistive agency is all they're prepared to offer.


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