Roadtrip Life :: Home

Do you? No, really. Do you?

Posted on September 18th, 2007 after 5998 miles by Dean Croshere.

Yesterday I thought I was in danger. There were other vehicles moving unpredictably all around me. Just to add to the excitement, one was loaded with hundreds of gallons of gasoline. We were all headed at nearly 80 miles an hour on the freeway, at least at first.

Today was different.

Today there was a moral dilemma. Today I was in a situation that I will likely be imagining myself in again and again for years to come: standing there, on the other side of the fence, with my shirt and shoes off. Debating. Should I jump?

I was downtown Detroit with a forumite, Eloisa. There is a very nice park with a nice view of everything nearby. I snapped a bunch of great pictures of Boxer.

Downtown Detroit.

The Renaissance Center.

The park is right next to the Detroit river. I started snapping pictures downriver, towards the nice tourist boat and the bridge. Click, click, click. Different angle. Click. Readjust Boxer, Click.

Some guy jumped over the railing right in my shot. Annoyed, I turned and started snapping pictures in the other direction. It’s still a nice view, I thought.

Click. Click. Adjust Boxer. Click. Click. Splash.

“Huh?”

“Help!”

“Oh shit.”

The guy fell in. Or he jumped in. Whatever it was, he was in. He was in the Detroit river.

The river does not move slowly.

He could not swim.

I could, I can.

I swam competitively for 14 years.

I used to be a lifeguard.

I jumped over the railing. Eloisa grabbed my camera and Boxer. I handed her my phone, keys, and wallet. I kicked off my shoes. People were running everywhere. I pulled off my shirt.

Wait.

Stop.

Think a minute.

Should I jump?

The internal monologue was fast, powerful, frantic.

No: “This guy is panicked. He could pull me under. They warned about that in life guarding class. I don’t know the river. I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know why he is in the river. Did he fall or jump? Is he drugged out?”

Yes: “He is barely keeping his head above water and he is starting to get near that boat, further from a ladder. I don’t have much time.”

No: “I’m still wearing jeans, I know how hard it is swim in jeans. I don’t have anything inflatable to help keep him above water, no life guard tube.”

Yes: “I know how to save his life. No one else here does. It doesn’t matter if anyone else here does. I know how to save his life.”

“I can save this man’s life. If I don’t, he may die. He will die.”

No: “I can die.”

Do you risk your life to save another? A stranger? A stranger who may have just tried to kill himself?

Do you?

No really. Do you?

When the situation is in front of you? Now. You’ve got seconds. People running and screaming, yelling for someone to help.

Yes. Yes you do. A good person does.

A good person does not stand by and watch another person drown.

Yes: “I’m going to do it. Alright, behind him. Get behind him so he can’t get a hold of you. Jump in upriver… There.”

I stepped forward to jump and heard something. Wait.

“Grab a hold of this.”

The boat. There were life buoys on the boat. I didn’t think of that. Someone ran and grabbed a life buoy. Those round things. Lifesavers. I didn’t have to jump in.

One toss.

The drowning guy didn’t see it.

A second toss.

He saw it. A flail. A thrash. He got it. He’s going to be ok.

I’m going to be ok.

My heart is beating again just writing about it.

Was I going to do it?

Would I have really jumped in?

I told myself to. I decided it was the time, it was the place. It was now or never. It was the right thing to do.

Doesn’t mean I was actually going to do it.

I don’t even know if I should have done it.

It will be a long time before I stop asking myself that question.

Do you risk your life to save another?

Do you?

::Discuss::Permanent link::Location

Grandpa
Carlsbad, CA
Central Ala- 'Bama
The middle of the state.
Heaven on a Bun?
Next to the CdA lake
Driving in Idaho
Just south of Coeur d' Alene