victorthecook: (Default)
[personal profile] victorthecook
Well, I'm sure you all have your opinions... but I'm puzzling through a moral quandary. I was out in the car, driving to visit the drugstore. A Mercedes convertible ahead of me pulled past a stopped bus and ignored the stop sign, pulling through the intersection without a pause. He then drove really slowly to the shopping center, where he blocked in a car that was trying to leave -- apparently in order to get the handicapped parking place they were occupying. It looked like he was going to try to park in the little walkway between the handicapped spaces, and at times like he was going to hit something with the car.

So I called 911. While I was on the phone, the guy parked, put up his handicapped placard, and teetered towards the post office. The 911 people took the information and sent a squad car around; presumably they talked to him, but I don't have any further information on it.

So am I a huge jerk? Did I pick on an old guy who was just having a bad day? That wasn't my intent, but good intentions aren't everything. Alternately, did I save someone from maybe wrecking their car or killing someone? Can it be both at once?

I think, on the whole, that something had to be done. And I think I had to do it -- lots of people saw the final act, but nobody else had the context I did. I also think the driver would never have listened to me if I'd approached him directly, though I could easily be wrong. And I'm sure his driving was erratic and at least borderline dangerous, regardless of the cause.

But calling the police is... extreme. It's messing with a stranger's life. And I'm never going to know what effects it had.

Date: 2010-10-16 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, cars are pretty dangerous. I've been involved on the medical side of having someone's license taken away because vision changes or dementia or whatever other cruelty of aging has made them unsafe drivers. It's always pretty upsetting for everyone - driving is a big symbol of independence for so many of us. But there's being upset and safe, and there's being coddled and putting your life and others in danger. I've also seen patients gracefully surrender their license after some kind of wake-up call - maybe you were his wake-up call, and maybe that saved his life.

Anyway, the police will get to decide. I'm guessing the most extreme response would be having him take a driver's test again. If this was just an off day, he'll pass it, and as a consequence of being caught out driving erratically, it's not such a big inconvenience to endure. And if it wasn't... well, again, maybe you saved his life or someone else's.

Date: 2010-10-16 01:40 am (UTC)
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
From: [personal profile] madfilkentist
This is commenting on a different dimension of the issue, but I don't think calling 911 was appropriate, because 911 is for emergencies. This really isn't an emergency situation. From what I've heard, the majority of calls that 911 operators get are non-emergency calls, and this tends to burn them out so that they don't respond to real emergencies as promptly as they should.

"Calling the police" and "calling 911" are two different things, and the latter is significantly more serious.

Date: 2010-10-16 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Except that most of us don't have the direct number of the local police precinct memorized. It's one thing to be able to look it up at home, but if one is out in the community and on one's cell phone... well, I certainly don't have the numbers programmed in, much less the numbers for all the different municipalities that I go to.

This is hardly like the people calling because the person manning the drive through was rude to them or any of the other insanities that they get called for.

This was, actually, an appropriate use to my mind because it was something which needed an immediate response, not something which could be handled a day or even an hour later.

Date: 2010-10-16 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah -- this is an edge case in many ways. And I had no idea at the time whether the driver would successfully park, or drive off, or hit something. I do think that an hour's delay would have been too much.

Date: 2010-10-16 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, part of the issue for me was: Is this an emergency? I decided to call while his car was still moving. The situation got less serious (ie, he reached the parking spot without wiping out) towards the end of the call.

Date: 2010-10-20 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think you were a heel. You might want to drop the non-emergency police number into your cell phone for future, though.

(And OBTW HI!)


Date: 2010-10-22 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There you are! We were getting worried.

Date: 2010-10-22 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yea. I didn't make it to YAPC, and I've been n lj very very little lately. Facebook (much to my shame)I've been using more.


victorthecook: (Default)

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