The Kids Are All Right.

My greatest fear is that I’ll be useless in a crisis. Well, strictly speaking most fears are situational. Put me in a room full of ferrets and my greatest fear will be that they’ll collectively attack me. I realize a lot of people love ferrets and they think it’s weird that I’ll handle snakes but that I’m terrified of ferrets which are basically snakes with fur and tiny legs. And also large, sharp teeth. So I point out to my friends who love ferrets but don’t like snakes that I’m selective when it comes to ophidians. I won’t go near a ferret for the same reason I won’t go near a cobra. A ferret’s bite may be less deadly but it still has bigger teeth.

Now that I think I’ve built up the courage to get back to my first point I’ll proceed. The other night I was driving home in the dark and saw a couple of people standing around a ditch. Then, as I got closer, I saw a pair of feet sticking up from the ditch and it looked like the standing people were kicking someone. I was pretty sure I was seeing an assault in progress and every neuron in my brain fired with the same message: Keep going. This is none of your business.

So of course I stopped, backed up, and rolled down the car window.

In the faint glow from the headlights I could see the standing figures were a couple of tall, lanky teenagers with matted blonde hair. They each wore blue hoodies and jeans, and looked enough alike that they were probably brothers.

And then the person in the ditch sat up and I heard him laugh.

“Hey!” he yelled. I could see he had a blue hoodie on too and that he was smiling.

“Everything all right?” I asked.

“Sure!” said the one still sitting in the ditch. He laughed. Then one of the others said, “Yeah, we’re just messing around. Sorry if we scared you.”

“Sure,” I said, and I forced out a laugh too. “Thanks a lot!” And I drove on.

When I got home I was shaking. I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. It was just some kids out for a walk, having some fun, but I couldn’t, I still can’t, shake the thought that I don’t know what I would have done if it had been something terrible. Would I have gotten out of the car? Rushed to help someone who needed it? I stopped but that was the very least I could do, and I can’t say what I would have done if it had been a real emergency.

The kids are all right. I’m not sure I am.

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  1. mydangblog

    What a frightening moment–but you stepped up. And if it had been a dangerous situation, you would have yelled, I’m calling 911 and then done it. Hopefully those kids realize that doing something like that in public is going to attract attention and maybe get them in trouble. I once came over the crest of a hill in my car to find 4 kids lying flat on their backs on the centre line. When they saw me, they got up and ran to the side of the road, laughing. I pulled over and yelled, “Don’t you EVER do that again–I could have killed you! Do you want me to find your parents and tell them what you just did?!” Their smiles dropped pretty quickly. My heart didn’t stop pounding until a while later, thinking about what might have happened.
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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is really terrifying. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to almost hit someone. I’d like to avoid hitting anyone at all, and I’m sure most people feel the same way. I was a bit scared I was going to have to get out of the car and run to the aid of the person lying in the ditch and I wasn’t sure if the others would come back. It was terrifying all around.


    I know what you would do, Chris — you demonstrated that in this story. You would be brave and do what you could do. Thanks for sharing this.
    ANN J KOPLOW recently posted…Day 3729: It all worked outMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      After the fact I realize that bravery, like fear, is situational. I hope to be brave when the situation calls for it.


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