Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I was all set to post another little story about packing out. It seems that's all I have on my mind these days. But first, I dropped a pile of old clothes and toys at Roundabout. Then I decided to go grab a bagel at Ms. Shanen's. Ran into some friends; had a lovely chat. I was feeling pretty cheerful when I stopped at the fruit lady's stand to stock up.

I got out of the car and happened to glance down the road I'd just driven. About 50 yards down, I saw a man and a woman fighting. He was dragging her down the road, away from me, and she was putting up quite a fight to avoid going with him. But he got her to his car and shoved her in forcibly. Then he drove away.

I stood there and watched. God help me, I didn't do a thing to intervene.

In the States, I could've called 911. I could've screamed and raised such a scene that people would've come running. But here: there's no 911. And all around me on the street, everyone else was going about their business, paying no attention to the woman. Was she being arrested? Was she being kidnapped? I have absolutely no idea. He shoved her into a private car, not a police car. But why?

I stood, and I watched, and when the car drove away (too far for me to even read the license plate), I turned and bought my fruit. The fruit lady said nothing about what had just transpired, and I didn't have the words to ask. I paid her, I thanked her, and I drove off.

Now I'm feeling awful. Just awful.


Walking to China said... [Reply]

There was nothing you could have done. A friend of ours in another city in China saw a man beating up a woman. He tried to intervene and then to get a security guard to intervene. The security guard wouldn't help.
We watched a woman fall off her bike at an intersection. No one even moved to help her. There are no good Samaritan laws here and someone who helps can be held liable for the accident.
It's just a sad but true reality of life here.

Jill said... [Reply]

I have no words for you, only good thoughts as you struggle to understand our sometimes cruel & different world.

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Yes, there was nothing you could have done. What could you have done?

You're a petite little lady. You couldn't have gone after the man. What if he had turned and started beating YOU or shoved YOU into the car? The upshot of that is too terrible to contemplate.

Which is why you were frozen to the spot - because you *knew* there wasn't anything that you could actually do and you were paralyzed with the instantaneous helplessness and guilt.

But it's not a *real* guilt - it's a societal guilt - and there was nothing at all you could have done without making it a hundred BILLION times worse. (Which you knew. Which is why you didn't and couldn't act.)

I'm so sorry.

Donna said... [Reply]

Thanks guys. You're right, of course, that there isn't much I could've done. As Walking to China pointed out, if you get involved here, you're likely to be blamed and end up in trouble yourself. In China, we've all seen situations where someone is in peril - after an accident, for example - and no one steps in. It's such an odd sensation, though, to not even be able to read the situation and understand what is happening. The cultural cues aren't there. Why was everyone around me so nonchalant? Don't they care? It's a crazy world, for sure, and I really hope that lady is okay. Preparing for bad dreams tonight though.

weathersby said... [Reply]

I am a FSO candidate and have spent a lot of time in Amman. I think that you guys will enjoy your assignment. A good friend runs a restaurant not far from the embassy in Abdoun. You will have to go for the best lemon and mint drink in all of Amman.


Rachel Cotterill said... [Reply]

Oh, goodness, how terrifying. I can only imagine how that must have left you feeling.

Please. Write your own stuff.