My Turn: No good deed goes unpunished | SierraSun.com
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My Turn: No good deed goes unpunished

I’m willing to help if asked. Last night on Northwoods Boulevard, in the dark and snow, when a young woman who’d seriously damaged her car when she hit a cable draped across the road from a downed utility pole (which another driver had struck) asked for help, I complied and called 911 per her request.

I also had hit the cable, which wasn’t visible in the dark, though very lightly because she had waved me off and because my car is a low sedan.

Stopped at that point, assessing the situation, I realized that others also could not see the cable or even the pole in the road, which I hadn’t seen until stopped. I also realized that others would be more likely to sustain much greater damage than I did given their typical taller SUV and trucks.



At that point I was tempted to drive off and leave everyone to their own fate, but that didn’t seem like the right thing to do. There wasn’t time to pull out and set up flares because cars were already approaching the cable draped across the road and the utility pole in the road.

So while awaiting rescue personnel, I parked my small car sideways in front of the cable to prevent anyone from hitting it, grabbed a flashlight, stood in front of my car and waved oncoming folks around those items.



Astonishingly, of the seven or so people who heeded the wave-off and safely made it around the accident, one stopped to scream an unrelenting stream of profanities at me about my car blocking the road. He obviously didn’t see that what was actually blocking the road was the log and the cable draped across the road and that my car served only to prevent people from hitting those two things.

He also had no interest in understanding that because and when I tried to explain that to him he screamed louder profanities.

A second very determined man in a small, low car, despite every attempt to wave him off, insisted on literally running his car over the utility pole instead of going around to the left, clear side of the road. Given the crunching sounds I heard when he dragged his car over the pole, my guess is that car in now in the repair shop.

I can only say to those two “gentlemen” that perhaps they might consider that sometimes it’s not all about them, sometimes it might not even be that the world is trying to prevent them from going about their very important business, and maybe it’s even possible that sometimes someone cares enough to try to keep even them from harm.

As for me, it was a very bad experience and it has caused me to seriously reconsider what I will do if I’m ever in that situation again. Right now, at least here in Truckee, if no emergency vehicles are present or others obviously helping, I will stop and ask if anyone needs help and call 911 if needed. But then I will leave. It makes me sad to say that, but it makes me sadder to experience what I did last night.

Janice Gatlin is a full-time Tahoe Donner resident.


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