Chivalry is not Dead

“What if Prince Charming had never showed up? Would Snow White have eventually woken up, spit out the apple, gotten job, a health-care package, and a baby from her local neighborhood sperm bank? –Carrie Bradshaw

I want to retract my thoughts at the end of my last post. Perhaps I was wrong, and perhaps chivalry isn’t dead. Maybe it actually is alive and well, in some folks. There are still gentlemen that will hold an umbrella over your head and hail you a cab, and ones that will open the door for you and pay for your coffee, even though you make more money than they do (even when you protest that you c an do it yourself). No, chivalry is not dead.

But…you know what IS dead? Common decency. You know how I know? People have completely ignored me, in distress, TWICE. In TWO DAYS.

I get to my car last night at about 5:10pm, after a brisk walk in 21 degree weather. Some jerk in a white Accord with a roof rack parked thisclose to me on the driver’s side. Whatever. That’s just irritating in general. Like, I parked close to the giant pile of snow, to ensure plenty of room around me, and someone STILL squeezed in. And it’s not like the parking lot isn’t ginormous, and always empty.

I squeeze into the driver’s seat, and close the door . I put the key in, push the clutch in, and turn it…and nothing happens. The battery is TOTALLY dead. Not even lights come on when I put the key in. Sigh. I check around to see what was left on. Can’t find it. I pull the lever to pop the hood, and nothing happens. Just my luck. The hood is frozen shut.

I get out of the car, and kick/hit/bang the ice off. Perhaps this will jostle the latch and the ice on that will crack. But no dice. Professors and people walk by, drive by, and not one person offers help. But they slow the car down, or slow the pace down, to stare at me, and check out what’s going on. Even the person parked on the other side of me stares for a minute before starting her car and driving away. Some people even stop in FRONT of me (and raise my hopes a little), to fish out their cell phones or buckle up, before speeding off.

AAA is a 2 hour wait. Seriously. Was I expecting something different? It’s the day after a major snowstorm, after all. At 5:25 I call PJ. He says he will be there in 20 minutes,despite wanting to work till 6. I tell him not to rush because I will be fine. Then my phone beeps. 15% battery remaining. Awesome.

At around 5:40, all the banging and straining on the lever pay off. The hood pops open! I take the jumper pack out of the trunk and hook it up to the battery. The pack has just enough juice to turn the dash lights on, and nothing else. People are still walking by. The shuttle has now passed me twice, and I silently curse the professors, employees, and students that stare, but offer no assistance.

It’s then that I realize I have shooting, frozen pains in only some of my fingers and toes, and can’t feel the other ones, despite the snowboarding gloves and kneesocks/tights/boots. The wind is whipping, it’s dark, and I’m generally by myself right next to the ghetto of New Haven. I’m going to get shot, I thought. By now, the hood is up, the doors and trunk are open, and I have to start moving around. I begin jogging, doing laps around the car to keep warm. I’m pretty sure the people walking and driving past me think I’m insane, but I’ve been outside in below freezing, windy weather.

PJ finally arrives at around 6:10. He’s totally rescuing me, as much as I know and want to take care of myself. Somehow, he is always my Knight in Shining Armor. He jumps the car, lets the battery charge for about ten minutes, and tells me to go warm my hands and feet in his car. Thank GOD for heated seats too, because I sit down and realize my butt is frozen too.

The lesson? A grand total of TWENTY-THREE people walked or drove by me. Not one person stopped to see if I was ok, if I needed help, or even if I had called someone. I get that these peoplea re elitist Yaleies, but one would hope that somewhere in their blueblood upbringings they would have been taught about general kindness and reaching out.

I know it’s easy to preach, and you might throw back, “Well, you wouldn’t have stopped.” Let me tell you. A few weeks ago, someone in our apartment complex was in the parking lot trying to jump a car and they were having trouble. PJ and I drove away, and before we even got to the next building we had decided to turn back and help them. Of course, by the time we got back in front of them, the car had started. So yes, I would have stopped, because I have. That’s just common decency.

I know we’re all totally capable of doing things ourselves, and it’s a great sense of pride when you shovel a mile long driveway, or change a tire, or even get the can off the top shelf. And I’m not saying we need to be rescued. But even if you want to, or need to, do it yourself, someone seeing your struggle and offering help never hurt.

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3 comments

  1. I don’t think common decency or chivalry are dead, but like you correctly pointed out, its just common in some places and not in others. I went to the movies really late a few weeks ago with my sister and our cousin and our cousin’s car had a flat tire. Unfortunately, the tools to fix the tire weren’t in his car. Two nice people, who left the theater as late as we did, helped us changed the tire and everything. I’m really grateful for people who care enough to help those in need (:. I hope your car battery doesn’t die when you’re in freezing weather again :(.

  2. people often think someone else will do it, helping out…no one wants to step out for the ?fear? of being the first one…I remember a story about a girl getting murdered outside a building, with plenty of screaming and ruckus to wake up the witnesses living in the building but nobody called the police because everyone thought someone else would have done it already. I guess it also depends on appearances too, because I would think gladly help out a tiny asian woman versus a big black man (because he probably doesn’t want my help?)

  3. It’s par for the pond you are swimming in, just more proof.With just the little I’ve read so far, I can tell you that if you expect more than 5% of the people you meet to uphold the standards you hold for yourself, you are in for a lifetime of disappointment.

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