Something happened on my lunch break and it has me feeling confused and guilty about the way I responded to the situation. I'll explain, and then you tell me-what would you have done?
I have been walking on my lunch break. I am way out of shape and I'm trying to build up a little bit of stamina for those hiking trails in Big Sur.
Anyway, I have been taking 30 minute walks around my workplace. Here is some basic info about where I walk:
I work in a very affluent neighborhood. You know that T.V. show? The Real Housewives of Orange County? Well that show is filmed about two blocks from where I work(in fact, one of the ladies from that show visited the business right next to us last week and parked right in front of our building-I know- big whoop). But that gives you an idea of the surrounding area where I take my walks.
Affluent. And pretty safe.
But I do walk alone.
There is this parklike area(no playground, but grass, and trees and park benches) that has a loop around it that I walk twice around.
Today as I am walking up the pathway I see a man sitting under a tree on one of the park benches. No biggie. I've seen men sitting on park benches before. :)
As I continue to come closer to him, I hear what I think is talking. I assume he is talking on a cell phone. I'm not close enough to tell for sure, but I definitely hear his voice as I am walking closer.
The closer I get, the louder his "voice" gets. I can see now that he is not talking on a cell phone. I think perhaps he is talking to himself? I continue to come closer.
As I approach the bench I see that he is crying. No. Crying is not the right word. Bawling. Sobbing. Wailing. Weeping. Those words better describe what he was doing.
As I approached him and walked past him, he buried his head in his hands and cried great, heaving sobs.
I was unsure of what to do. I looked directly at him to see if I could establish eye contact but he kept his head buried in his hands. I wanted to ask him if he was okay. Or if there was anything I could do for him.
Here's where I am ashamed. I didn't ask if he was O.K. I didn't ask if there was anything I could do. I didn't do any of those things. What did I do?
I walked right by him. Without saying a word.
And then on my way back around the loop I took the shortcut and didn't walk by him again.
Two opportunities I had to possibly help someone who was obviously in pain and I walked right by.
I feel so guilty. The entire way back to my workplace I kept asking myself why? What stopped me from the simple act of asking him if he was O.K?
Here's what I came up with. I was afraid. I am very leery of men I don't know. I watch way too many "true life" crime stories on T.V. I hear on the news every single day about women dissapearing only to be found years later floating in a river or lake or buried in some forest.
It is something I spend more time than one should spend thinking about such things. One time our neighbor was using a chain saw at ten o'clock at night and for a week I was convinced he was another Jeffrey Dahmer. Turns out he was building a bookcase for his 5 year old daughter. Oops. My bad.
My husband thinks my fascination with serial killers is funny. Or "quirky". We laugh about it all the time.
But am I letting this fear stop me from being a good person? I probably had nothing whatsoever to fear. The chances that this man was going to hurt me were slim to none.
So I think I'm just using that as an excuse. And if that's the case, what's the real reason I didn't stop?
Laziness? Because it would have put me outside my comfort zone? Neither of which are valid reasons in my book.
So, what would you have done?
P.S. I used to work at a Catholic School and we used the phrase WWJD(what would Jesus Do?) all. the. time. Perhaps I should start practicing what I preach. (Hangs head in shame).