Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kids in distress

I live in Hoboken, which is NYC's unofficial 6th borough, and urban, but pretty safe. I was coming out of the market today--a bright, gorgeous day--with lots of goodies for brownies and sugar shock, when I saw this five year old little boy sitting in the middle of the sidewalk crying. I didn't see his mom, so I crouched down and asked him if he was okay. He shook his head. "Where's your Mommy?" I asked and he cried harder and said, "We got separated! I don't know where she is!" I swear my bones turned to water. I asked him if his Daddy was around and he said, "I don't have one!" Then I noticed his dirty jacket, so I told him as soothingly as I could that I was going to call someone to help. "Who are you calling?" he said, alarmed, and I told him I was calling the police and I would stay right with him and they would come and help him.

I fumbled with my phone, while trying to keep the little boy calm. As soon as I got the cops and hung up, I was surrounded by lights, cameras and these very polished, well-dressed and broadly smiling people. I was baffled but one guy said, "You did such a great thing! We're NYC ABC news! This boy is an actor! The cops are in on this!"

I was really pissed because I had been so upset, and I said, "What, this is your idea of some sort of sick candid camera? You think it's funny to do things about lost kids? To trick people like this?" I was really mad and I said, "Right now, stop filming me," and I started to walk off and they FOLLOWED me and I stopped again and this woman said, "Look, we're working with this organization to find lost children and I have to tell you that you were the ONLY person who stopped for this little boy and he's been sitting out here for over half an hour."

That got me.

That made me stop and listen.

The woman told me that they wanted to make people aware that there are lots of lost and kidnapped kids right under everyone's noses and it's important to stop and notice who is around you. She also wanted people to know that no one stopped for this boy and how horrific that is and b. that I had stopped instantly and I was an example of what a good person should do. We talked for about half an hour and I got less angry and I finally began to think that maybe this was something important for people to know about. I told her she could use the footage but I didn't want to be filmed anymore and I've spent the rest of the day feeling sort of sick that no one else stopped for this little boy! So I'm going to be on Abc news, but I'm really upset that no one else stopped on a gorgeous sunny day for a little crying five year old but me. That scares me.

Then Max came home with a 101 fever and that scared me, too.
What's wrong with people that no one else stopped?


Clea Simon said...

oh GOOD for you, Caroline! I hate to think you're the only decent person left in the city, any city. But maybe you are? I'm hoping, maybe, that they were exaggerating about how long they were out there, with nobody else stopping?

And I hope Max feels better soon!

Susan said...

Caroline, that is CRAZY. What a chilling story. Made me think of that young woman, whatshername Kitty, who was killed with dozens of people listening and nobody helped... shudder.

Michelle Richmond said...

Yikes. As I read your post I was envisioning Hoboken, and this kid sitting there, and it's so sad and strange to think no one helped him for half an hour. I understand what it's like to be in a rush--and I'm sure we've all been in situations where we know in hindsight we should have helped someone--but when it's a little child, it's pretty astonishing. One would think that any parent who passed by would think of their own child and be motivated to approach the boy!
Michelle R.

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