I did a thing tonight and it pains me.
This week I had to give an hour-long presentation to our college-aged intern on the finer points of lithic analysis, so I spent most of the week on that. Once I gave the presentation on Friday, I turned my attention to an article I’m enjoying writing, on my experience with BMX.
I was looking forward to working that again tonight. And then I was walking to my favorite little dive bar to write and I saw some shit that bothered me deeply.
At the corner of Park and Couch in the park blocks, I saw a woman who was incapacitated. She was a very large person, sitting down, and she was repeatedly falling over. She couldn’t stay upright. I watched for about 10 minutes. One time she tried to stand without success.
The reason I was upset about this more than usual is because she was with a 5 or 6-year-old child. He milled about her, uncertainly. Sitting down, waiting, carrying bags around her. He was clearly with her, and clearly not willing to leave.
So I called 911. I don’t like to get involved. I don’t pretend to know what anyone’s particular situation is like. I don’t want a child to be separated from his mother. I watched for as long as I could to try to understand the situation. In this case, I feared for the child’s safety. I feared that he might step into traffic. I worried that he may not have eaten or had anything to drink today. I worried very much that he was worried about this woman.
911 answered and was very gentle with me. I told them that I was concerned about the child, and that I thought maybe the woman needed an ambulance. They said: “Does she have a black top and black pants on, child is maybe 6 years old?” I was surprised and said yes, and they said “we already have officers on the way.” Apparently I was not the only one who was concerned about the situation. It was a huge relief to know that I may have done the right thing, since someone else had done the thing before me.
I’m really terrible at knowing when I’ve done the right thing. I don’t know what’s wrong with me in that regard. I mean, I know that a child in that situation is in a circumstance that should be fixed, but is it dire?
I’m mostly worried about the consequences. I’m keenly aware that my involvement might result in this kid having a long night. I’m aware that the reporting of this incident by myself and others might result in his placement in foster care. I could really care less about the feelings of his mother, or caregiver, or whatever she was. She’s a person, and she’s not unimportant, but she did a very bad thing. I hope she is OK, but I loathe her for neglecting this child. I hope he gets the care he needs.
Anyway, all of this pissing into the wind is to say that I may have fucked over a little kid tonight, and I hope he’s OK and fed and safe and maybe even sleeping at this point.
Did I do the right thing?