This is off the subject of this blog and what I try to focus on, I'm hesitant to even write this, but I feel like I need to comment on the recent story about the homeless man who was left for dead on the sidewalks of NYC after trying to help someone. I hate to say this, but I'm not surprised that no one stopped to help the man, Mr. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax. It's sad that this is forever how his name will be remembered. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
I say that I am not surprised, because I was once hit by an SUV when I was living in New York City, and numerous people walked right on by me before one person (reluctantly) stopped to see if I was okay. I was waiting in a crosswalk on the Upper East Side, directly across from the 77th street subway station (and a hospital) when I heard a woman scream. Traffic was going south so I was looking right, and when I looked to my left where the woman was pointing, all I saw was a big bumper and then wham. I was standing just at the edge of the curb and was knocked a few feet out into the cross street. My purse and my umbrella went flying from my hands. I thought that both of my arms were broken. I was completely in shock and couldn't move. The owner of the SUV, who was illegally parked and had backed up into a pedestrian crosswalk, stopped for a split second, didn't get out, then just drove away. The light turned green and people started crossing the street. One group of 20-somethings passed me laughing and a girl pointed behind her saying "There's a hospital right there." Several other people walked by and all of them just stared. No one stopped the SUV from driving away. I was still sprawled out in the street and couldn't move. I tried to get up but my arms were useless. One young man asked if I was okay. When I didn't reply because I was still in shock, he began to walk away (I guess he thought I was being rude for not answering quickly). When I realized that I could be lying there for who knows how long because I couldn't push up off my arms to stand, I yelled out after him and asked him if he could help me to my feet. He picked me up under my arms, then quickly walked off.
I did go to the hospital after that. Amazingly, I didn't break anything but I had to wear a sling on my right arm for a couple of days. The x-ray technician at the hospital was disgusted when I told him my story, and amazed that I hadn't broken any bones. I was told later, when I tried to report the hit-and-run to the local precinct, that I should have called an ambulance even though I was just feet from an emergency room. They couldn't make a report because I hadn't called 911.
So reading this article about Mr. Tale-Yax brings back fresh memories. In fact I'm shaking as I write this I'm still so angry about what happened to me. It's a reminder, a terrible one, that we should all be paying better attention to our fellow human-beings. I'm trying not to judge the people who walked past Mr. Tale-Yax without intervening. I know there is a fear for some in getting involved. But are we so jaded and busy that if a person is bleeding to death, or gets hit by a car, we can't stop to see if they are okay? If this had happened anywhere else, in a suburb or smaller city, do you think Mr. Tale-Yax might still be alive?