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TO HELP OR NOT TO HELP ON THE STREET?

Popularity 6Viewed 1865 times 2014-5-3 11:12 |System category:News

I actually fudged a bit in my reply about how I'm spending May holiday. I'm spending it on my couch. On May 1, it rained steadily in Xiamen and I went to a first-ever crafts market in a developing "new-old" neighbourhood near where I live. I slipped on a wet concrete down-ramp, landed on my side, and felt my knee ligament sprain. Nobody came to help me up or see if I was okay. I rolled myself over towards a wall and pulled myself up and leaned on the wall feeling frightened and a bit shocked. I knew I'd done damage. I phoned a close friend, but his phone was off. Some friends had a stall so I limped towards their location and was surrounded by concern and assistance. I couldn't feel angry about the lack of help from strangers but wondered what I would have done if I'd been really alone there. We all know this phenomenon of people not wanting to get involved through fear of being blamed for the accident. Much later after I got home, a memory came back of a middle-aged man standing a metre or so from me, watching me intently. I think I smiled at him and he walked away. Maybe he was waiting to see if I'd ask for help.

There are many stories of badly hurt accident victims being ignored unconscionably around China and great self-questioning by Chinese about their values and society when this happens. Also stories of "fake" victims seeking to rip off kind people who stop to help and even blame them. I was in a car with Chinese friends once that came upon a child lying on the side of the road in a village - we had seen the child go out there and lie down. The driver carefully went around the child and drove on. Evidently if we stopped, the family would run out and accuse us of hitting the child and demand compensation or create trouble enough to assemble a stand-over mob of neighbours and relatives. It's a risky strategy for the child who could actually be run over, but maybe being seen to lie down is part of the safety strategy. Drivers might stop anyway if they can't get around the child, then they're caught. I also feel sympathy for locals whose once-peaceful villages are now main roads to weekend beauty spots and constantly facing the car barrage and the pollution and dust they cause without getting any benefit from it. A new form of road toll perhaps? Send the kids out to collect. 

Another non-Chinese colleague of mine fell while running on a Hash in a public area full of tourists and split her chin open. Many people ran to help her, produced band-aids, bandages and offered mobile phones for her to call people. She was surprised by their concern and helpfulness. I know how kind many Chinese people are, yet remain challenged by the risk of helping strangers. There's talk of creating Good Samaritan laws to protect those who give help - at the same time, some helpers do make a situation worse, even if they meant to help. I'm glad nobody tried to pull me up, and maybe once I showed I was somewhat mobile, people thought I was okay.  I've heard if you state loudly that you fell down by yourself, people know you take responsibility and will help, but what if you're unconscious? 

Anyway, I can't get to an orthopedic doctor for four days because of, guess what? The May holidays. So I'm on the couch for now, though I limped off to a bar last night to see a colleague off to hospital in Thailand for cancer surgery. Some things are way more important than my busted knee. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-5-3 12:33
The bar might well have provided some painkillers too! A little medicinal alcohol never hurt anyone!   Sorry to read of this experience and wish you well soon. And your friend too. On the big picture of offering or not offering help, that Good Samaritan law cannot come too soon! Sadly it is needed.
Reply Report laoren1234 2014-5-3 12:51
I wish you a speedy recovery.
Reply Report msbom 2014-5-4 08:56
ColinSpeakman: The bar might well have provided some painkillers too! A little medicinal alcohol never hurt anyone!    Sorry to read of this experience and wish ...
Indeed, they offered it, but I was (fairly) strong! As an avid internet-based self-diagnoser, I read alcohol was to be avoided and had just one small, light beer.
Reply Report wingless 2014-5-4 13:18
Get wll soon.
Reply Report Maierwei 2014-5-4 18:29
I hurt my knee slightly (only soft tissues were damaged) and I could go down the stairs without aid in less than a month. I felt the same pain when I read your post    So sorry to hear about your ligament sprain, and the bad time consequence (holidays)... Hope there is nothing too serious!

You were right about avoiding alcohol by the way. Take extra care of your body and support it on the way of healing! Sleeping well works wonders as well (still need you should see a doctor though!) I remember the doctor had prescribed a non-presciption traditional Chinese medicine along with many others, it was a kind of herbal spray and was quite helpful.
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-5-5 09:26
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.

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  • IN CHINA'S GOLDEN TRIANGLE 2014-6-7 08:15

    laoren1234: I heard Kinmen is famous for its liquor, Kinmen Gaoliang. Did you have a chance to try it?
    Yes, laoren, but I tried it long ago and found it's not my favourite. There were giant bottles here and there marking the site of factories of the famous gaoliang from Jinmen. Many people carried it home with them.

  • IN CHINA'S GOLDEN TRIANGLE 2014-6-4 08:45

    Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.

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