Keith, Ian, David and I had just walked out of the house and were examining Keith’s amazing sculpture of a head. “This should be in parks and gardens all over the country”, I said. “People of all ages will love this.” Suddenly there was a loud crash. We turned our heads to see a tree falling in the road and a large car going over the tree. The car, a minivan, came to a stop in front of the driveway. We ran to see if the driver was all right. Then Keith and Ian quickly moved the tree off the road and onto the grass. It was only about 9am, so traffic was brisk in both directions. The car was still in the middle of its lane, so we began directing traffic around it. David went to call the police, because the driver, a woman, was still in her car, talking on the phone.
Another driver stopped by the damaged car, and the two women started talking. I said, “You have to move on; there are people behind”. “Has this happened before?” she demanded as if she were in charge and the tree’s fall was somehow my fault. I said that it was not my tree, and could she please move on. She continued, “It is scary”.
Wow, I thought. Everyone has to make this about themselves.
The woman who had driven over the tree was of no help. She remained completely sealed off from everyone else. She was rude, and not at all willing to see that people were being impacted by her car. We told her to call AAA. Because she had never removed the sticker from the card, she called the wrong number. I took the card and scraped off the tape so she could call. She clearly felt entitled, and did not acknowledge what we were doing to keep the situation from becoming chaotic. Her demeanor was condescending at best; in her mind, we were just there to serve her. She had no responsibility toward others, either us or her fellow drivers. I offered her water, but she refused. We were not up to her level.
Her arrogant refusal to be part of a momentary community was fundamentally unsafe, for her and everyone else. Rather than be safe by engaging with us, she chose to insulate herself, which was hazardous.
We were thrilled when the police arrived. They quickly realized that talking to the driver was useless, so they spoke with us instead, and politely asked if they could roll the woman’s car onto our grass. We agreed to it though we knew the car was leaking fluid. The police were nice, respectful, and efficient. Once the car had been moved off the road, they left to handle some other situation. The driver didn’t speak to them, but we made sure to thank them.
A tow truck from AAA would take thirty minutes. Again, I asked the woman, who was standing by our mailbox still talking on her phone, if she wanted something to drink, knowing full well at this point she would just say no.
As I was walking away I very loudly said to her, “You’re welcome”.
The situation revealed this fourchotomy:
|Grateful / sharing||Ungrateful / isolated|
|Obsequious / lost in others||Detached / own person|
Here we were, four adults with work and lives, joining into this mess to share in the humanity of it all. We did that only to find the recipient was completely ungrateful. She did not care. The police cared. We cared. Some of the drivers who followed our directions cared. But the driver who needed the help was arrogant and isolated. At one point I even said, “Can you help here? I left my work to help”. Not even looking away from her phone, she spat, “Well, go do your work”. There was no humanity, no connectedness, no sense of responsibility to the situation..
I have been in accidents, and have been so grateful for the help of people who happened to be nearby and acted with humanity and responsibility. I have helped out when others have had accidents. When I go out of my house and engage with the world I am glad for the fact that we are All here together and share in our common Source. How sad it was that this moment, which could have been an occasion for all of us to come together, share, and help, was instead just another lesson in how people isolate, hate, and refuse to Love.
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