Friday, June 1, 2007

Nobody Wants To Be Chicken Little

I was listening to a woman talk about her book, written in 2004, called "Flight of Terror." Eight Middle-Eastern men boarded a domestic flight separately but were obviously together. They performed several maneuvers, iincluding patrolling the aisles, spending up to 15 minutes in the bathrooms, one time leaving a phone there. The apparent leader rushed the cockpit door, then shied away at the last moment. Two air marshals were on board but did nothing. She said the leader finally made a slashing motion over his throat and they all sat down again. She said passengers were praying and crying. But no one did anything. They weren't quite sure what was going on. She reported what she saw and was labeled an alarmist. The reason for the news interview now was that a Homeland Security report has come out verifying what she reported. She said apparently one of the air marshals was fired.

What I find interesting is that the passengers were afraid, but they did nothing. They knew something frightening was going on but they weren't quite sure what. They didn't know what to do, and they didn't act. After all, there were two marshals on board and they weren't doing anything so what---? I think we are often like that, that beyond the "don't get involved" syndrome we often attribute to community crimes is the literal fact we will die--or let someone else die--rather than be embarrassed. What if we are wrong? We will look like idiots.We might be impolite.

I think it was last week a nurse called 911 in Dallas and reported seeing a man with an assault rifle entering the hospital premises. Police responded and a search revealed the reported individual was actually carrying a prosthetic leg over his shoulder. Everyone had a good chuckle. I bet the nurse felt like a doofus.I wonder how quickly that individual will make another call?

I've made three 911 calls. The first was years ago when the college girls upstairs were having an apparently very fine party and they all went out on the balcony about 3 a.m. It sounded like they had all moved into my living room. They were still partying hearty when the police arrived., which I knew by the BAM, BAM, BAM police knock I could hear even downstairs in my bedroom. And yes, I could have gotten up, dressed, and gone upstairs and asked them to quiet down myself, but I didn't want to.

The second was three years ago. Got a new neighbor who seemed like a nice young woman with a good job history (I talked later with the manager). About a month after she moved in, she quit going to work. The car disappeared soon after that. She played mood music *BOOM da-da- BOOM) rather loud at all times until about 9 or 10 p.m. whiile various men came by singly for an hour or so at a time every day. There were signs of drug use. One night I came home and she was having a party in her carport with about 30 people in the carport. Everyone looked at me drive in. All had stony faces which I found somewhat intimidating. Later that night, she was arguing loudly with a man in the front yard. Both voices were heated and escalating. I listened a few minutes, then called 911. It sounded like she was about to get hurt. After I called, however, they went inside, and when the police came, the couple didn't answer the door. A sergeant and two patrolmen came. And yes, I felt like a doofus. I have no idea if she was hurt. I hadn't heard any sound of blows from inside my home. I will admit I wanted them to know police were called in this neighborhood for altercations like that. We have not had another.

The last was about a month ago, and again, I almost didn't call out of embarrassment. This time, I heard a big bore rifle shot somewhere north of my place late at night. Five minutes later I heard another shot, then another gun. Nothing else. Call? Don't call? I explained to the operator that I had been around quite a few guns and knew what I was hearing, but not where, except north of my home in the middle of the city. Confessed to Law Son, telling him I had doubts about making the call. He told me cheerfully he was glad I did. I have to wonder how many folks waver on that call/do't call dilemma and choose don't call out of embarassment and doubt. And I'm still curious who was shooting and why late at night.

Maybe it's just as well most of us decide not to call. Too many nosy parkers could jam the phone lines. Sometimes, though, it's the call made before someone gets injured or killed that makes the difference.


Merry Jelinek said...

When we bought our house the year after we were married, we found that we have the nicest neighbors ever invented... The couple that lived next door (they've since downsized to a condo - but I still miss them even though the new neighbors are also great) were what some people might call nosy. In fact, the woman who grew up in this house wound up being the receptionist at my kids' pediatricians' office, and when she saw my address commented on the neighbors - she didn't like them, said they were always watching out windows and not minding their own business.

Well, I adored them. We talked over the fence when the kids played in the backyard - he was a retired police officer from the neighborhood I grew up in, and she was a homemaker, from the era when almost every wife was a stay at home mom and wife... They had treat bags for my kids every halloween, we brought them candy and kid's handmade cards for Christmas, and when my husband was out of town during one really bad snowstorm, he and another neighbor shoveled my walkway without even telling me they were doing it (both men were well past retirement age)

Anyway, back to the point - he was nosy. If there was a noise by my backdoor or we had guests over, you could be sure he was looking out the window... he knew what time we came in, and if my husband was out late with his friends or brother you could be sure that Marty would say, "Feeling kind of rough today?" with a grin the next morning.

But I loved that about them... because I knew if there was ever a problem at my house, they would notice and do something about it... If anyone broke in, Marty would see it, and he'd probably be here quicker than I noticed it.. I felt safe with nosy neighbors...

Maybe we should all be as nosy about people's well being as we are about all the gossipy superficial things none of us ever fails to notice.

night lightning woman said...

Merry, you are so right about the alert neighbors. The husband across the street doesn't miss a thing if he can help it. One day when I was just sitting in my car, probably listening to the radio, he sent one of his daughters (we're talking 40's here) over to make sure I was all right. I feel safer knowing they are there. Would he call 911? I don't know. Your neighbor would. I know when the woman next door was in danger, I called. He didn't, and he knew. She was about her own business. I told him I was the one who called. So he learned something more about me, and vice versa. No, we didn't learn. We just confirmed.