Sunday, May 24, 2009

Forced Passivity

I discovered another reason why I dislike my jury duty this past Thursday. As my case ran late, my wife asked me to pick up dinner. Her choice: Greek.

So I drove over to the Athens Cafe to pick up a Gyro and veggie platter (both recommended). The cafe is in a strip mall next to a Great Clips and near a Walgreens. It's also near Bill's Gun Shop...but that's neither here nor there. After I parked, I was walking up to the door, when I heard a woman scream, "Hey! Stop! THIEF!"

I looked to my right and here came a young, African-American male running at top speed down the side walk. In his hand was something I couldn't quite see, but it was obvious from the woman screaming and pointing at him that he had not paid for the item.

He was going to run right by me. I could have easily just thrown my weight at him, knocked him down, and stopped him.

But I didn't.

So...he ran right by me and bolted to the steps at the end of the mall and went out of sight. The woman stopped running well before then. I grabbed the door to enter into the Athens Cafe right as she got there. We made eye contact. She didn't say anything, but her look said it all: "You had the opportunity to help, you bastard, and you let him go."

As I sat and waited for my food to be prepared, the reasoning began to become clear. I hadn't stopped the guy because of everything I have seen during jury duty and because of my family.

The family aspect is the easiest. When I was single, it didn't matter to me if something happened. Now, I have people that I am responsible for. Now I have people who depend on me to be there, and I can't let them down.

But the other reason was jury duty and the stories of the crimes. So let's say I stop this guy...who's to say he isn't armed? Who's to say that he doesn't see me coming and just flat out beats the crap out of me? There wasn't anyone else out there other than the woman from Walgreens, and she wasn't going to save me if he went at me.

So I let a crime happen that maybe I could have stopped...and I feel guilty. My wife says I shouldn't as I was under no obligation to help anyone, but that's no consolation.

In the end this will only be a small moment of my life. I just hope it doesn't define me.

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