Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Comfort Zone

Last entry, I wrote about stagnancy when it came to life decisions and whether or not it is a good investment. This time around, I want to talk about a different type of stagnancy...

It was a cool Tuesday night. I stepped in my favorite bar to meet a friend and play pool. As we began to play, he told me that a couple was acting rather suspiciously. The two had been fighting since he first arrived. I didn't really think much of it other than another case of a failing relationship and continued on with my evening.

Later, the couple became the spotlight of the night as the young man began to get loud with the young woman. Everyone, including myself, stared on as he got loud with the, clearly uncomfortable, woman. Soon after, he took her purse and began to walk out of the bar. As she chased after him, red flags flew throughout my head. Still, I stayed and watched hoping that it was nothing more than a lover's quarrel. She ran outside after him. We could see the two through the window. Using the purse to lead her outside, he started to yell at her mercilessly. I watched, hoping that the few people outside would do something. They sat by and watched on as he cornered her near the fence. After seeing that nothing would come of waiting, without much thinking (or perhaps without caring for the consequences), I walked outside towards the couple. As I walked outside, he pushed and pinned her against the fence. While walking outside, I could hear everyone uncomfortably saying "you shouldn't do that" and "cut it out", yet not doing much of anything else.

Somehow in my insanity, I finally reached the couple and grabbed the man. I knew (and expected) what could happen next but it didn't matter. The punch in the face that I definitely should have gotten would have been completely worth doing something.

"What the hell is your problem? Give her back her purse. Get off of her, right now," I somehow managed to say.

With a confused look, he looked at me as if I had two heads. "I don't even know who the hell you are."

"You don't have to know. Give her back her purse," I said, guiding him away from her.

The girl grabbed her purse from him, thanked me and ran off. As she ran off, he started to go after her. I grabbed him again. Eventually, I let go because I couldn't hold him forever. As he went after the girl, my friend gave me the phone to call the cops. Fortunately, at least someone beat me to that. A few of the bars patrons and staff began to follow the couple to the parking lot to make sure nothing happened.

We went back inside, I went to the bathroom and cried my head off. As I sat there, balling my eyes out, I thanked God that somehow He gave me the strength to act. I also thanked Him for not having the guy beat the mess out of me. As I forced my tears back in, I grew angry at the fact people are so used to their comfort zones that even when something is so evidently wrong, they still do nothing. There were at least five men smoking outside and they did nothing except verbally"poo-poo" the man from the comfort of their current positions.

Stagnancy can become a very dangerous thing. According to a few psychologists, this is called the "bystander effect". This theory is that the more bystanders present, the less likely someone will do something about the situation. A horrifying case, I learned about in English 101 comes to mind when I think of this. In March of 1964, a New York waitress was stabbed to death by a man, 20 feet from her apartment door. Her name was Kitty Genovese. According to a police report, the attack began at 3:20 a.m. but the first 911 call didn't occur until 3:50 a.m. Later, it turned out, there were approximately 13 witnesses that heard her cries of "Oh my God! He stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!" Even the man who managed to peak his head out of the apartment window and scare the assaulter off, did little else to aid the woman.

I've seen the bystander effect occur as I was walking past a bar in West Orange. A man was pulled out of his car and jumped. People gawked as if nothing was happening. The police station is literally three blocks away. I called the cops and they managed to catch the men. While hanging with some friends in Newark, we all clearly heard a scream. I didn't have a cell phone at the time (a common occurrence). I asked one of my friends to call the cops. They refused and decided to write it all off as if nothing happened. In the end I had to fight even my boyfriend to give him my phone because they didn't want to "get involved". Later, I got the crazy look and the patronizing, "you are noble."

The truth is, I'm not noble. Society has just gone insane. I see it as simple cause and effect. Something bad happens, you do something about it. I would want the same for me if I were those women. Wouldn't you? Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in any aspect of your life. It can be something as complicated as standing up for what you believe in or simple as approaching someone you like. Yeah, some bruises may come along the way, but how do you expect to grow if you stay in your bubble?

Even now, I think back to last night and wonder:

Those people that followed her to make sure nothing happened, if something actually did happen and the cops didn't come, would they really have done anything?


  1. Where did ya gooo? No more blog?

  2. This was a great article by the way. It's scary seeing inaction in these circumstances.


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