Thursday, January 09, 2014

Sins of Omission

Last night something happened that has been troubling me since.

I'm a little fuzzy on the details because I was half asleep, but at 4:30am Jacob woke up to a car in the parking lot below trying as it might to get unstuck from the snow. Jacob woke up Kim and by the time I woke up the whole family was in our bed listening to a struggling engine. From the bedroom window Kim could see that the car had become stuck blocking the passageway of our parking lot, and wondered if we could go down and help push. In my half-asleep state I thought she was just annoyed with being woken up, so I advised we turn up the fan and go back to bed, hoping they would soon stop, call a friend, or...I don't know. I just wanted to get back to sleep.

I finally woke up when Kim said that the car was on fire. I leapt out of bed and called 911 like a superhero. Dispatch told me that someone had already called and thanked me for calling and I hung up. As a family we watched this poor persons car go up in flames while I said things like, "oh my goodness"; "that sucks"; "I hope they have insurance"; and, "wouldn't it be great if it belongs to the people who stole our package?"

In the end, the car fire popped and sputtered but failed to explode in the way that Hollywood led me to believe it should. We watched, took pictures, and regretted that we hadn't intervened before catastrophe struck.

I guess I'm trying to alleviate some of the guilt I feel for not holding myself to the standard that I aspire to. Calling 911 was literally the least I could have done other than doing nothing, which in the end is what my effort contributed. It was -13º F last night (real feel -35º F) but I had warm enough clothes, I could have helped and the effort likely would have cost me 5 minutes and the sleep I was already destined to lose; yet the effect of that effort would certainly have changed this person's morning and quite possibly their long term financial situation depending on what this ends up costing her.

I would like to be the kind of person that dashes to the aid of others. I'm ashamed of how much I considered my own comfort while hoping that the problem (MY problem, as I was experiencing it) would be resolved quickly so I could get back to sleep. I'm worried that my "good heart" is just a concept, but when faced with a moment to exercise it I am not up to the task.

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