We were driving home from my sister’s house the other night when I remembered I had left a bag by her front door. I asked Doug to turn the van around and as he did, a dark bent figure came into my sight: it was a man lying on his side on the sidewalk. His body lay dangerously close to the alley entrance, and he was not moving.

I got my phone out and dialed 911 and asked for someone to please come and check on this man. It is possible that he was sleeping, or perhaps passed out from drug or alcohol consumption. “Is he moving at all?” the paramedic asked me over the phone. “I saw his foot move a little, like a twitch.” “Is he breathing?” he asked next. “Well, I think so.” I replied. “Was he at all responsive?” “Well, I’m not really sure. I am in my car with my little kids and we…” “Oh, of course, I understand…we’re on our way. Thank you.”

I hung up and felt sick inside. I had not been able to answer that question. I should have been able to answer that question.


  1. That’s a really tough one. So many moments I wish I could go back in, but then I am not sure even if I went back what I would have done so differently. I don’t think many people would have even called…

  2. A couple of years ago, we came across a dude lying on the side of the road in the country near my parents’ home at night. It freaked us out. He was getting up and falling down — he seemed pretty high or drunk. We just kept our distance and had the lights on him as we called an ambulance. He was about a quarter of a mile away from a hospital and looked to have a sling and a hospital bracelet. I was torn over going outside on a busy country and unlit road and with my safety and the safety of my wife and friend who was with us. It still bothers me that I didn’t go outside.

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