View Full Version : No Help For The Helpless - Opinions Please!

02-14-2011, 03:36 AM
This letter showed-up in my mall's town's paper. I have mixed emotions about it:

I moved to this beautiful state a year and a half ago, with a husband totally disabled by a stroke and a daughter born with down syndrome. We were so blessed to have neighbors come to us offering to be friends and to help in any way possible. A church adopted our daughter, making certain she got to all their services and events. They also brought bible study to our home. For, you see, my husband is very nervous about being away from home too long.

One afternoon, I finally coaxed him into going to a movie at ___(My)____ Mall. The handicap vehicle he must travel in is 20 years old. Even with $2,500 in work done to keep it running at least for a year, that night it refused to start when we tried to return home. I knew that would be no problem at all, because I had seen the love our community offered.

I asked the first person if he could help. He never even slowed down. The next refused to look at me and walked past. The third looked over at my husband and daughter and snickered as though their disabilities amused him.

After approaching six people with similar responses, I gave up. I called our insurance company and asked that they send someone and to tell them we were just inside the theater. I described myself, my husband in a massive wheelchair, and my daughter, who wore a santa hat. After 45 minutes, then 15 more, I called the place that was supposed to have helped us. He couldnít find a trio made up of a gray-haired woman in a black down jacket, accompanied by a man in a huge wheelchair and a girl in a santa hat, who stood at the outer doors of the mall under the theater marquee. They left. It took another 20 minutes for him to arrive again.

My husband was getting agitated at being away from home so long. Do we have to stay on the one tiny place on ____(Home Street)____ with neighbors across the street and behind us to find help for the helpless?

I had some issues with this letter. The majority of letters our paper get seems to be complaints about one thing or another, many that just seem pointless. First off, what did this lady expect random customers in the mall to do about her broken-down vehicle? Our area does have a bit of a problem with begging and panhandling, so these customers probably thought they were cutting-off someone who wanted money. Secondly, she never mentions EVER approaching anyone in a uniform, any employee in a store, or going to the mall office. I know for a FACT that the owners of the store across from the movie theater have actually helped people with their vehicles before, or have let them use their phone to call for towing, etc. Thirdly, why call the insurance company; I hope she meant towing/roadside service. If she had gone to the office or come to security, we could have helped her find numbers for towing, or offered to call, or offered other advice since we encounter many people having car trouble. It seems like she avoided asking help from anyone who COULD have possibly helped. Since it has been so cold here, I also donít completely believe that they stood outside or at the doors for an hour; if they were inside our double-doors the tint would have made it very hard for a driver to see them, plus he would probably expect them to be at the vehicle that he was called to; they had a responsibility to look for him. Finally, she complains that she always gets help in her hometown. Itís wonderful that theyíve reached-out to her like that, but she now seems to expect it from everywhere. It is sad when you expect help and decency from other humans and donít receive it, but her town is a little more homey and close-knit than the one my mall is located in, even though itís not even a Ĺ hour away. Iíve actually heard people complain that my mallís town has very rude, suspicious and stand-offish people in it. Iíve greeted people before with a ďhow are you?Ē and have gotten a hearty ďF**k youĒ in response, so I somewhat agree.

I donít know what she expected to happen, am more than a little upset that she didnít get any help, and angry that this will sour more than a few people towards our mall, because by naming the mall, rather than the town, almost seems like she is blaming THE MALL for not helping her, when she never asked for our help at all. I have wheeled peopleís chairs to their cars. Iíve gone through the phone book for roadside assistance. Iíve lent people my personal phone, handkerchiefs, etc. Whatís the point of having mall staff in clearly-marked shirts, security in uniforms, directories to the mall office, etc. if nobody uses them, then complains that they didnít get/find/were told what they needed!? If she had approached us, we could have done what we could, even if all it ended-up being was to be a sympathetic ear to her, which is what I think she really wanted overall. Sigh, I just donít know; it really frustrated me. :(

02-14-2011, 05:36 AM
The general public is under no obligation to help the disabled, especially if there's a significant amount of help needed.

As you say, the appropriate source of help would have been mall or movie theatre staff, not the general public. And if they'd approached the theatre staff, they could probably have had the tow truck (or mobile mechanic, or whatever) told to go to the theatre, the three would be in the lobby. That sort of thing is done for taxis all the time - I can't see a reason not to do it for mechanics!

Yes, I think the whole community benefits if the general public DOES help the disabled. But there is no obligation, and there should be no obligation. Making it obligatory makes it open to abuse. There are enough disabled people abusing their families and carers as it is.

02-14-2011, 06:25 AM
Approaching the mall staff or security would have made sense to me.

So would calling a taxi. Yes, I know she described the wheelchair as "huge" but it would have been worth a try. Getting her husband home was probably more of a priority than getting the car started again for the time being.

I wonder if someone from the mall will respond to that letter?

02-14-2011, 12:08 PM
I wonder if someone from the mall will respond to that letter?

The office looks into all articles pertaining to the mall or our stores; even if it's just our name in passing. I'm going to mention it to the manager too.

Irving Patrick Freleigh
02-14-2011, 12:26 PM
One afternoon, I finally coaxed him into going to a movie at ___(My)____ Mall. The handicap vehicle he must travel in is 20 years old. Even with $2,500 in work done to keep it running at least for a year, that night it refused to start when we tried to return home. I knew that would be no problem at all, because I had seen the love our community offered.

Obviously she didn't get out much, but given her family circumstances that isn't surprising. Just because your neighbors are kind and courteous doesn't mean everybody in town will be the same.

She should've gone into the mall to find somebody to help her. The people working there kind of have to; they can't just ignore her or snicker at her family. Even if all they can do is listen to her, it would've been better than what she got out of total strangers.

02-14-2011, 02:50 PM
... Why were pedestrians expected to know how to fix a car..?

I guess it's just me, asking strangers for help is just too weird a concept to comprehend. Call the insurance agency, or AAA first, if someone walks by and happens to know something, mozel tov, but actually asking strangers for help is crazy to me.

02-14-2011, 03:03 PM
call me cynical but i wonder if she wrote that letter expecting people to read it and go "ahhhh poor woman, lets see if we can fundraise for a new car for them".

02-14-2011, 05:09 PM
Ooooh. Can we fundraise for a new car for me? :D

<pouts at Raps> What do you mean 'no'? :(

02-14-2011, 05:32 PM
I have to say, My first thought ran right along Georgie's. Sounds like a barely disguised hint for someone(s) to buy them a new car. Because even the stupidest person I know (and I've known some real idiots), go to the staff of a mall or the security when their vehicle doesn't start on mall property.

02-14-2011, 05:59 PM
You go to mall/theater/whatever staff, you call AAA, or you call the non-emergency police line, these are not things to figure out. I'd be pretty aprehensive about helping some random strangers, especially if I'm by myself, even though I'm a really helpful person I really don't know what their situation is and I need to lookout for me. If the issue was needing a jump I can kind of understand asking a couple of random people who just happen to be right around me before finding an employee, cuz it is something that most people at least know how to do.

To me the letter does sound like a grab for money, otherwise why would they mention how busted their van is? If they were just sad that nobody helped them wouldn't they have just said that the van wouldn't start?

Frantic Freddie
02-14-2011, 06:41 PM
... Why were pedestrians expected to know how to fix a car..?

I guess it's just me, asking strangers for help is just too weird a concept to comprehend. Call the insurance agency, or AAA first, if someone walks by and happens to know something, mozel tov, but actually asking strangers for help is crazy to me.

I've helped numerous strangers over the years,I always have cables,a 6 ton hydraulic jack & a small toolbox with me.A very common cause of a car not starting is corrosion on the battery terminals ("My starter/solenoid/battery is dead!" No it ain't,your teminals are corroded,5 minutes or less pullin' them off & usin' my terminal cleaner...Vrooom!) but a few years ago I helped a woman whose car had died at the mailboxes.She rolls down her window 2 inches & asks if I can help her."Sure" I say,"Pop your hood".I move my truck & get the cables,open my hood & attach them,then turn around & she's still in her car.What the.... but I went ahead & put 'em on her car & say "Try it".Then I notice her window's rolled back up,so I gesture to her & it starts.
So I detach my cables from her car & even before I can get them off my truck she slams into reverse & peels out.Not a word of thanks,in fact her expression during the whole time was one of,well,fear.

I figured she wasn't local,since we're in a semi-rural to rural area,ain't like there's a lot of crime here & people routinely help each other.But not even a Thank You through the window?

02-14-2011, 06:51 PM
Yep, money grabbing is it. I agree.

Step 1: Lookit we have the "right" religion!
Step 2: Lookit these great people (of the right religion) have helped us so much.
Step 3: Lookit our van is old and nearly busted.
Step 4: The mall (very weird and full of entitlement story) was mean to us!
Step 5: Not written... If you are a good person of the "right" religion you need to help us with some money.

Keep us posted!

02-14-2011, 06:57 PM
I think the letter writer is an EW. She may not be as extreme as some we run into (and post about on the board), but her attitude seemed to be that people should be falling over themselves to help her family out.

I think most of the people on this board have run into or even know someone like this. They're sweet and full of thank yous, but they really expect that what they receive is their due.

I have to agree that the letter writer made some poor decisions, and that she is probably trying to get some sympathy toward getting a new vehicle.

Sapphire Silk
02-14-2011, 10:56 PM
I definitely get the impression the writer is complaining that the "community" she encountered at the mall was not the loving, generous community of neighbors . . . she has the unrealistic expectation that everyone she meets in her new state will be like her neighbors.

That's ridiculous, of course. There's a mix of good and bad in every community, and even the good are not obligated to help a stranger with a transportation problem. Most people could NOT: fixing a broken down van is beyond their ability TO help.

She didn't ask anyone at the mall for help. She didn't call a neighbor with a pickup truck for help.

Yeah, I'm getting the EW vibe too . . . she's angling for a "community response" to replace their van.

02-15-2011, 04:57 AM
I think this woman is playing up the "Poor little old me" bit. I agree, she wasn't out of options. No one has to help you. Charity is a gift.

Android Kaeli
02-16-2011, 03:12 AM
Call me negative or whatever, I wouldn't help them either. Sorry but I don't know them from a hole in a wall and don't know if they are faking it or not, just to rob me and take my own car home. They should've gotten someone who worked at the mall to help them, not random strangers walking to their own cars.

02-16-2011, 03:36 AM
Personally I suggest a well written letter to the editor pointing out that her error was not going to the mall office / security for assistance but noting that the mall does care about their customers and would be happy to be of assistance in the future if she notified them of the difficulty. The mall staff can't help if they don't know about the problem.

02-16-2011, 08:32 AM
I am going to go against the flow of thought here. I read the letter in a different light. To me the letter writer was just explaining how nice everyone has been, true humanitarians and now she is a bit disappointed in the reactions she recieved on the night in question. I would be too. I don't think she was trying to make a play for a new vehicle, to me it sounds like she was just describing it and until that time they have been lucky. I would have definately helped her out as I have done so before when strangers have asked me for help, especially when a vehicle snd cold weather are part of the equation. Most of the time the car just needs a jump and I am more than willing to do so if asked. I am sort of knowledgable about vehicles as I have had way more than my share of broken down ones!! I have learned how to figure out what is wrong for the most part, just by listening or checking out certain things. Anyways, around my area it is very common for strangers to help each other with vehicle issues, that is why I would have been disappointed because I have had to ask for help and have been asked to help and it never crossed my mind to say no. I also wander why she did not ask for help from within the mall office area, but maybe she was just frustrated and agitated due to the circumstances that it just never crossed her mind to do that. I know that everyone has times where they wished they would have done something different in certain circumstances. Well that is my "two cents" worth.

02-16-2011, 12:38 PM
I'm in two minds about the motives of the lady herself, but I have to say that I am one of those who would be very wary of stopping to help a couple in a large van that had "broken-down". Call me Mrs Paranoid but thats actually quite a suspicious situation to me.

If your car breaks down, surely you call the AA or the RAC (or the American equivalent), or if you don't have breakdown cover, you call out a breakdown truck. You don't stop random strangers on the off-chance that one of them might be an off-duty mechanic. As for the taxi thing, I don't know about this lady's area but in my (small) town, an awful lot of our taxis are the minibus types that are equipped to take wheelchairs.

ETA: I've read the letter again, and i think BeeMused is right. i think this is a begging letter for a new car.

02-16-2011, 05:56 PM
I was so upset of the light she cast our mall in that I never even read between the lines; It could be a 'please help we need a new car' call. At first I thought, wouldn't it be nice if our mall did something to help her out? But now, I'm not sure. And that would just lead to begging coming out of the woodwork for help from us. It's a shame we can't seem to be more community oriented, but we get screwed enough as it is. It's a sad, disappointing situation all around.

I talked with stores in that part of the mall and NOBODY remembered ever seeing the letter writer and her family. She was pretty specific, so I don't think she got us confused with another mall (it's happened!), but that puts another hole in her story.

02-16-2011, 06:46 PM
NOBODY remembered ever seeing the letter writer and her family. She was pretty specific, so I don't think she got us confused with another mall (it's happened!), but that puts another hole in her story.

Hmmmm...It's possible that she could have just made the whole thing up..I'm betting dollars to doughnuts that she doesn't even have a husband who is disabled or a daughter with down syndrome...People have been known to make stuff up as a way to gain money and sympathy.

02-17-2011, 12:28 AM
Security tapes?


02-18-2011, 05:33 AM
I keep wondering what sort of help was expected, actually.

If my car breaks down at the mall, I'm not going to solicit perfect strangers and then hold it against the mall or the community when none of those strangers stop to help. If my car breaks down, I have access to resources - call a tow truck, call a taxi cab, call my garage and tell 'em to expect another delivery; old Herbert is actin' sorry again.

One sympathizes, of course, with whatever hardships she has to go through as caregiver. However, she has the same responsibility that I do - to ensure that she has access to the appropriate resources to keep this sort of thing from happening, though the resources may need to be extraordinary compared to mine.

If a stranger buttonholed me in the mall and asked me for this kind of help, what are my responsibilities here? I would have to point out that I'm not a garage mechanic, I don't own a tow truck, and I doubt that the massive wheelchair would fit in the trunk of my decrepit Chevrolet Aveo. If she then decided to indict the entire community on the basis of my inability to help, I'd feel more than a little put-out.

I am sympathetic. But where were the members of this Church when she needed help? Where were these neighbors that she said she could count on? Why did she have to grab the wrist of the nearest shopper rather than someone who might actually be in a position to help?

Love, Who?

02-18-2011, 06:45 AM
I actually would like to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, but I've been approached so many times by panhandlers with sob stories that I probably would not have believed her if I had been there. I don't drive anyway, so I would not have been able to help with transport. I really don't get why it wouldn't occur to her to ask the mall personnel for help, to call AAA, call a cab, or as a last resort call the local police non-emergency number (it was an emergency for her family, in a way, but perhaps not as the police define it). Maybe it's just the way I think, but in her situation it would never occur to me to approach random strangers walking by for help with this.