Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Hero or Coward?

Today, I posed a “what if...?” question to the authors that frequent Come In Character: What would you do if you spotted someone drowning? Hopefully, characters will offer truthful confessions, but you can't predict anything with this bunch.

Even though the exercise is intended for fictional people and creatures, I couldn't help but wonder what I would do in a similar situation. Would I ignore the victim's frightened cries, jump in after him or her, seek some professional help, or do something else altogether?

Although I'd like to think that I would come to the immediate aid of a drowning victim – whether that means jumping into the water myself or tossing him or her a handy flotation device – the truth is that I'm not sure I'd do much more than holler for a police officer or, at the very least, dial “911” on my ever-available cell phone and pray for cellular service.

So, the question is... what would you do in a similar situation?

(P.S. The picture accompanying this post does not, in fact, depict a drowning victim. It's actually me getting splashed by dolphins in Key Largo, Florida.)


Julie said...

I can't swim, so it would have to be find a way to get help. The question is whether I'd have the presence of mind to try multiple sources/mediums and get someone in time.

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for your honesty, Julie. Although I do swim, I'd still be tempted to get help rather than jump in, struggle with a scared victim, and possibly drown myself. But, who knows? In the heat of the moment, I might jump in anyway. It would be really hard for me to watch someone drown right in front of my eyes.

Marguerite said...

Hi Laura! Since I used to be a lifeguard, and am still a swimmer, I would have to jump in and try to save them.

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Marguerite! Thanks for stopping by - and for your willingness to attempt a rescue. Hope you're nearby the next time I'm flailing.

P.S. I'll be coming to your neck of the woods (Cajun Country) for a travel writers' conference in late May - maybe I'll get a chance to meet you!

Becky said...

Unfortunately I have jumped in and saved a little life. But the victim was a toddler in a public wading pool, so no real danger to me, but the sight of the child, face down in the pool for what seemed like an eternity still haunts me. Luckily, the child seemed OK, but the mother was eerily detached from the situation and never even thanked me. I worry that I maybe should have called CSD or the police as well. It was pretty surreal.

Laura Martone said...

Wow, Becky, that's amazing! Good for you for saving that little kid. Of course, I understand your mixed feelings. While it's always heroic to save a young life, it's hard to accept that the child will have to grow up with such a dispassionate mother. Although you have nothing to feel guilty about, I understand the desire to have called child protective services - sadly, though, they probably wouldn't have done much without a clear indication of neglect. In fact, they likely would have just chalked up her heinous behavior to shock. Sigh.

R.R.Jones said...

Jump in, in fact I've already done it!
As a young soldier we did a pontoon bridge building excersize with the Royal Engineers. One of the lads had to swim over with a rope and, not being as good a swimmer as he thought he was soon found himself in trouble in a very strong current. Things turned bad when he quite suddenly started to flounder in the water. Lack of sleep must have sapped his strength because it all happened very quickly.
I didn't think, I jumped in and started pulling the rope he was attached to which was for some reason that escapes my memory now, floating free !!!.
Long story cut short, he didn't drown, I was a hero for ten minutes and then we had to move upstream to find another location for a crossing.
War is hell ma'am, war is hell, lol.
PS. He did buy me some beers on our return to camp though and his wife and kids were very thankful :-D

Laura Martone said...

That's incredible, Reg. I'm glad your instinct kicked in when it did. No doubt, the young soldier was glad, too. And I'm not surprised that his wife and kids were thankful. In their minds, you're a hero for life!

Becky said...

Interesting comments. Drowning has touched our family very deeply, as my mother's brother (my uncle) died trying to swim across a lake when he was in college. Someone tried to save him too, but was unable to. Because of both experiences, I am extremely protective with my kids around water. I started them with swim lessons as tiny tots, and have gotten them back into them now again, and make them wear life jackets always when in boats, deep water, etc... They're both strong swimmers now. I've never been though, so I'm cautious as well.

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Becky, I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. That's awful.

Although, as far as I know, my own mother didn't have such traumatic experiences with water, she, too, was never a strong swimmer - so she was always very watchful of me as a child. Luckily, my father IS a strong swimmer and taught me to swim as a tiny tot - which my mom always appreciated. And now I love the water!