Like A Car Accident

Monday, April 14, 2014

Except not exactly. More like a bike accident. Let me explain.

I went for a run along the Pier yesterday, which was both as painful and pleasant as it always is to run along the water, except it was hot as balls. And with the warm weather comes lots of tours and visitors on the Pier in addition to the daily runners and bikers. At first, I didn't think anything of it. I'd occasionally have to run in place while large groups of people took their sweet time crossing the track, but as I'm an unbearably slow runner, it wasn't too much of an imposition. The dock at 42nd street was clogged with almost a half dozen tour buses so the "run/walk" track was littered with people just standing around, and it forced me to brave the "bike/skate" track which wasn't so bad and certainly better paved. It may seem silly that I avoid the smoother track in favor of a road that is somewhat bumpy at times and well-paved at others, but had you been side-swept by a biker and knocked to the pavement while running, you'd avoid it too. I digress.

What made me notice just how crowded the Pier was on this rare sunny Sunday in April was the mass of people I saw on the track at 34th street. From a distance, all I could see was a large group of people huddled together but as I got closer, I saw a few bikes spewed about the track and noticed that quite a few of the people had biking helmets on. When I was about a half-a-block away, I realized what was drawing the crowd. At first, all I saw was the sweaty back of a man crouched down on the pavement. His arms moved slowly and carefully as he seemed to be lifting something from the ground. As I ran past, I could see that something was actually a someone. In the middle of a crowd of nearly 20 people laid an injured biker who moaned as the man tried to help him sit up. He must have fallen from his bike (he was wearing a biking helmet as well) after colliding with something or someone at the crosswalk (I'm assuming). He was lying on his chest and as he leaned forward, I could see that both his mouth and the left side of his face were covered in blood. Not a pretty sight. Yet, there were so many people just standing around watching. At least 15 people stood in a tight circle around the injured biker, looking on with wide-eyes or talking to each other. A few were even on the telephone, calling an ambulance I'm assuming. And like a starburst, whose center is denser than it's extensions, a few bystanders lingered around the perimeter watching how everything played out. After I'd passed the group, I stopped for a moment among the bystanders, assessed whether I could be of any help, determined that I couldn't, and carried out with my slow crawl down the Pier.

As I walked home from the Pier, an ambulance whizzed past me with its siren blaring. I never really understood why people stand gawking at accidents. I'm not excluding myself from this because I'm not immune. We're drawn to them like magnets and simply can't look away. For some there's even an element of excitement as if life has become a real-life episode of CSI or something. Everyone wants to contribute, talk to reporters, relay what they saw or what they think must have happened. We all stare at the 6-car pile up, but we don't all have to linger around. That's the pang I felt as I continued my run away from the bike accident. Why are these people just lingering around? It was almost frustrating to me. For one reason, and admittedly the least important reason, having an accident is embarrassing. Whether you've been side-swept and knocked to the ground or flipped over the handlebars and bleeding from your mouth, it's embarrassing. You could be badly hurt or barely hurt at all, but your first instinct after you've tumbled to the ground is to pick yourself back up and pretend like you're fine, like it didn't happen. Carry on, nothing to see here! And when people stop and form large groups around your whoopsie, the embarrassment triples. My second thought is to question how this is helping. Does a group of nearly two dozen people surrounding one injured person really help anything? You know the saying "too many chefs in the kitchen"? I'm pretty sure it applies to "too many responders to the scene". There comes a point where the addition of helpers becomes more hurtful than helpful, and I'm sure for a bike accident, that number is somewhere around six. Because when everyone is helping, no one is actually helping.

Moral of the story: if you're just being nosey, keep it moving.

CHECK-IN #?: I've had a rough few weeks and actually ended up gaining 2 pounds, which makes me want to scream. *Insert screaming emoji here*. But instead of sinking to the ground and burrowing myself into the dirt, I'm trying something to boost my workout - enter two-a-days a.k.a the death of me :/ I'll be sure to update how this works out if I live.

1 comment:

  1. This is spot on! First off, I bike along that path quite often and it can get pretty aggressive which is even more of a reason to not have twenty gawking bystanders obstructing it. Secondly though, as much as I will admit being prone to wanting to see what is going on in a situation like the one you described, it's just plain tacky to stand there and stare like it's not playing out in real life but for your own personal amusement. If you can't be of service, then like you said, move on. Recently I was in a cab getting off the BQE at the Metropolitan stop when there was a three car accident ahead. It was backed up for so long that I decided to get out of the car and walk down the ramp to my destination however I passed the cars on my way. They were pretty banged up and the one in the middle had some injured passengers. My inclination was to stand and stare or try and help out but a number of people were already on the phone which I felt was an obvious indicator an ambulance had been called and really any assistance I might try and give would really just be one more person getting in the way. So I kept walking. Not to mention, its exactly this kind of shit that causes traffic on the highways and I hate being stuck in traffic. Keep it moving people!


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